His 2008 book, “Doubt Is Their Product,” attacked industry for defending itself against junk science. Today in a front-page NYTimes article, OSHA chief David Michaels admits he has failed to protect worker health in his 3+ years on the job.
From the NYTimes article about workers injured by the spray glue used in furniture factories,
… And it highlights a startling fact: OSHA, the watchdog agency that many Americans love to hate and industry often faults as overzealous, has largely ignored long-term threats. Partly out of pragmatism, the agency created by President Richard M. Nixon to give greater attention to health issues has largely done the opposite.
OSHA devotes most of its budget and attention to responding to here-and-now dangers rather than preventing the silent, slow killers that, in the end, take far more lives. Over the past four decades, the agency has written new standards with exposure limits for 16 of the most deadly workplace hazards, including lead, asbestos and arsenic. But for the tens of thousands of other dangerous substances American workers handle each day, employers are largely left to decide what exposure level is safe.
By contrast, OSHA has two dozen pages of regulations just on ladders and stairs.
“I’m the first to admit this is broken,” said David Michaels, the OSHA director, referring to the agency’s record on dealing with workplace health threats. “Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people end up on the gurney.”… [Emphasis added]
The irony here is that there doesn’t seem to be much dispute about the spray glues hazards — unlike many other OSHA efforts. Yet Michaels can do nothing.