I’ve now been on the job for two busy weeks as Acting Assistant Secretary and my greeting to everyone is overdue. I can first tell you that I’m thrilled to be back at OSHA and ready to work with you to raise the profile of worker safety and health in this country.
Earlier this week I met with Secretary of Labor Solis, and I’m very happy to report that she gets it. She understands working people, she understands and strongly supports the mission of this agency and wants to put her energy into ensuring that this agency succeeds in its mission. The first message I conveyed to her is that OSHA is full of some of the finest, most energetic, most dedicated people in the federal government and that I was proud to help her lead this agency.
Now, it’s no secret to any of you that this agency has come under some heavy criticism and scrutiny over the past few years. From my perspective, that criticism was focused not on what you do every day for working people, but on the lack of strong leadership promoting worker protection, strong regulatory activity, and aggressive enforcement.
I had more than one friend who warned me not to take this job because they felt that OSHA is a terminally sick agency. Nothing can be done to help it. The law is weak, resources lacking, the bureaucracy stifling, the regulatory system glacial, and the staff demoralized.
But I reject those arguments. Clearly there are some changes that need to be made in workplace safety in this country that are beyond OSHA’s control. But I have complete faith in OSHA’s mission, the staff of this agency and that OSHA can fulfill that mission – to protect American workers and assure safe workplaces.