Dr. David Michaels, the Assistant Secretary for OSHA, announced that today, January 10th, would be his last day with the agency. He will be returning to academia at George Washington University beginning January 17th. And, on this last day, he continued what has been a very aggressive regulatory agenda by announcing that he was accepting a coalition of unions’ petition for the creation of an OSHA standard related to workplace violence in healthcare. See the petition, filed in July 2016, here: Petition. What does this mean? Perhaps nothing. Come January 20th, there will be a new administration with new political appointees heading OSHA. In addition, the establishment of a new regulation is a very slow process. However, as noted in our blog last month, California has already implemented a new rule related to workplace violence in healthcare that takes effect April 2017 and the unions are likely to try to continue to push this agenda. If you are an employer in healthcare, keep this one on your radar until it is clear what path it is likely to take.
In the meantime, Jordan Barab, who is currently the Deputy Assistant Secretary for OSHA, will begin acting as the Assistant Secretary for OSHA until January 20th. After that date, stay tuned, it’s likely to be an interesting time for OSHA.