The Biden administration plans to nominate California official Doug Parker to lead OSHA as the assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, the White House said on Friday, April 9, 2021.

Parker is currently chief of the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, commonly known as Cal/OSHA, where he played a lead role in developing the state’s Covid-19 workplace safety rule.

If confirmed, Parker would be the first Senate-approved chief of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration since January 2017, when David Michaels stepped down at the close of Barack Obama’s presidency.

Parker’s nomination comes as OSHA finds itself in the middle of the debate over whether the White House should issue an emergency temporary standard for workplace protections against the coronavirus.

Biden had initially given his Labor Department a March 15 deadline to determine if such a standard was needed, but Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said his agency needs more time to make a decision.

Calls for such a rule got a boost in March when the Labor Department’s internal watchdog released a report recommending OSHA make such a declaration.

“Given the increase in complaints, OSHA’s reduction in total inspections, and its significant reduction in in onsite inspections, there is an increased risk that OSHA has not been providing the level of protection that workers need at various job sites,” the report said. “While remote inspections might help mitigate potential transmission of Covid-19, a reduction of on-site inspections could result in more work-site accidents, injuries, deaths or employee illnesses.”

Douglas L. Parker of San Francisco, California, previously served in the Obama Administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy in the Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration, and was a member of the Biden-Harris transition team focused on worker health and safety issues. He also held positions as a senior policy advisor and special assistant at the Department of Labor. He currently serves as chief of California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), a position he has held since 2019. Prior to his appointment to Cal/OSHA, Parker was executive director of Worksafe, an Oakland, California-based legal services provider.

Before serving in the Obama Administration, Parker was a partner at the law firm Mooney, Green, Saindon, Murphy and Welch, in Washington, DC. He began his legal career as a staff attorney at the United Mine Workers of America. Prior to law school, Parker worked in the private sector as a sales and marketing director, in communications for the Democratic National Committee, and was a staff assistant for the late Senator Paul Wellstone. Parker earned a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law and a B.A. in history from James Madison University. He is married and has two daughters. Parker is originally from Bluefield, West Virginia, and grew up in Lynchburg, Virginia.