Ron Hayes, a self-described thorn in OSHA's side for almost a decade, has been appointed by OSHA chief John Henshaw to be a member of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health.

NACOSH advises OSHA and NIOSH on a broad array of workplace safety and health issues.

Hayes and his wife Dot established a nationwide support group for families of workers killed or injured on the job, The FIGHT Project (Families In Grief Hold Together), after their 19-year-old son was killed working inside a grain silo in 1993. Angered over how his son's case was handled, Hayes quit his job as an X-ray technician and has pushed, prodded and cajoled OSHA and lawmakers ever since for a number of reforms he says are needed to make the agency a credible, trusted protector of working Americans.

Probably the most visible independent activist for workplace safety and health in the country, Hayes has testified before Congress on OSHA reforms; met with U.S. senators and congressmen; appeared on local and national television; given scores of interviews to newspapers, magazines and radio stations; and spoken at state and national safety conferences. He also conducts worker safety training classes and researches work-related deaths and injuries and OSHA enforcement activity. He lives in Fairhope, Ala.

"The voices of business, families, injured workers and the average worker must be heard. This could be accomplished if Mr. Hayes is selected to serve on this committee," wrote Alabama U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions in 2000 to former Labor Secretary Alexis Herman. Two years later, the relentless Mr. Hayes is going to Washington - probably too close for comfort for some OSHA vets stung by his charges.

But the self-avowed "hellraiser" says he wants to build up OSHA's image, not tear it down. Two of his priorities will be to urge the agency to upgrade training for inspectors and get tough with employers constantly found to be violating safety rules, he says.