subscribe to ENR magazine subscribe
contact us
careers industry jobs
events events
Dodge Data & Analytics
ENR Logo
Web access will be provided
as part of your subscription.

Ten Minutes With OSHA Chief David Michaels

Text size: A A

Construction safety, including safety of crane operations, is a priority for David Michaels, the chief of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Michaels, who became assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health last December, signed a voluntary agreement on May 17 with the National Center for Construction Education and Research, for crane-operator certification--the fourth such program to receive formal OSHA recognition since 1999.

Before moving to the top OSHA post, Michaels was professor of environmental and occupational health at George Washington University¹s School of Public Health and Health Services. Earlier, he was the Dept. of Energy's assistant secretary for environment, safety and health. After the signing ceremony with NCCER at Dept. of Labor headquarters, Michaels spoke with Tom Ichniowski, ENR's Washington bureau chief.

----- Advertising -----

Why is this [crane operator certification] agreement important?

Construction safety is a major focus at OSHA--60% of our inspections are construction sites. Most of the fatality investigations that we undertake are actually on construction sites.

And we know that there are far too many opportunities for workers to be hurt or killed in construction, and, particularly in the last few years, we¹ve seen a sobering number of fatalities associated with cranes.

And our staff is working very hard with organizations such as this one [NCCER] to develop a set of standards and to implement training requirements so workers who operate cranes and derricks can work safely.

What is the status of OSHA¹s major crane-safety regulation?

We expect this standard to be finalized fairly soon.

Like when?

We're aiming for July and I think it's still, as far as we know, on target. And it will be very important to ensure that the proper training programs are in place.

David Michaels

What other sort of construction-related initiatives do you have in the works or do you see down the road?

We've just announced a program where we'll be working with cities across the country, training their building inspectors, to identify workplace hazards and contacting us. So that¹s a very big issue for us.

We're looking right now at the ways we target our inspectionsŠto ensure We're getting out to all types of construction facilities and particularly the high-risk ones. So we¹re now examining how we do that and we¹re very interested in pursuing that.

We're focusing very much on non-English-speaking workers and trying to reach them through alterative methods--reaching out to community groups, faith-based groups.

We've actually signed a number of agreements with the Mexican consulates around the country who will represent workers, and construction is probably the largest area where these workers are employed. So we¹re very interested in doing that as well.

----- Advertising -----
  Blogs: ENR Staff   Blogs: Other Voices  
Critical Path: ENR's editors and bloggers deliver their insights, opinions, cool-headed analysis and hot-headed rantings
Project Leads/Pulse

Gives readers a glimpse of who is planning and constructing some of the largest projects throughout the U.S. Much information for pulse is derived from McGraw-Hill Construction Dodge.

For more information on a project in Pulse that has a DR#, or for general information on Dodge products and services, please visit our Website at

Information is provided on construction projects in following stages in each issue of ENR: Planning, Contracts/Bids/Proposals and Bid/Proposal Dates.

View all Project Leads/Pulse »

 Reader Comments:

Sign in to Comment

To write a comment about this story, please sign in. If this is your first time commenting on this site, you will be required to fill out a brief registration form. Your public username will be the beginning of the email address that you enter into the form (everything before the @ symbol). Other than that, none of the information that you enter will be publically displayed.

We welcome comments from all points of view. Off-topic or abusive comments, however, will be removed at the editors’ discretion.