The Biden administration on Inauguration Day wasted no time in naming former United Steelworkers safety official Jim Frederick as acting chief of OSHA, part of a team of interim leaders at the Labor Department who will help jump start the new administration’s labor and employment agenda.
As of January 21, OSHA’s organization chart shows Frederick as acting chief of OSHA. Other top OSHA leadership positions: Thomas Hughes will serve as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Pandemic and Emergency Response for OSHA. Previously, he was the director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Worker Education and Training Program, which provided grants to unions, companies and nonprofits to train rank-and-file workers on occupational health and safety.
Another OSHA leader is Deputy Assistant Secretary Many Edens, who joined the agency in 1985 as an industrial hygienist. Edens formerly served as the director of OSHA’s Directorate of Technical Support & Emergency Management (DTSEM) since 2012.
Ann Rosenthal is now serving as an OSHA senior advisor. Rosenthal was the Associate Solicitor for Occupational Safety and Health at the Department of Labor until 2017. She spent her entire legal career focusing on protecting the safety and health of American workers. Earlier, Rosenthal had served as Deputy Associate Solicitor for Occupational Safety and Health and as Counsel for Appellate Litigation in both the Occupational Safety and Health and Mine Safety and Health Divisions of the Office of the Solicitor.
Frederick began work remotely on Wednesday. He will join a group of Obama administration alums and other workplace policy professionals who will begin serving in temporary roles across the Labor Department. Many could stay on permanently, some as second-in-command at their respective subagencies.
The incoming administration plans to flood the DOL with political appointees in acting roles, to quickly address urgent priorities tied to the pandemic-driven workforce crisis and to start work on reversing regulations enacted by the Trump administration.
Frederick, who retired last year after 24 years as United Steelworkers’ assistant health and safety director, will have a hand in addressing Biden’s call for OSHA to advance an enforceable regulation that would require employers to take steps to protect workers from contracting Covid-19 while on the job.