Douglas L. Parker—First Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Since the Obama Administration

Douglas L. Parker is an American attorney and government official nominated by the Biden administration and sworn in as Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on November 3, 2021. Worker advocacy and democratic political causes have always been the primary focus of his career. From 2019 to 2021, Parker served as chief of the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health. He is the first U.S. Senate-confirmed assistant secretary of labor for OSHA since the Obama administration.

Parker’s nomination fills a four-year void in OSHA, which did not have a Senate-approved assistant secretary during the Trump administration. Under Parker’s leadership, more aggressive and robust enforcement will likely encompass several of the issues focused on in his previous employment with Cal/OSHA, including: 

  1. Increasing the number of enforcement inspectors, willful citations, and criminal referrals
  2. Heat safety
  3. Whistleblower protection
  4. Enterprise-wide abatement agreements
  5. OSHA’s 2016 anti-retaliation rule
  6. Covid-19 healthcare and vaccine/testing ETS regulations

During the Obama administration, Parker served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy at the Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration. His private sector legal experience includes working as a staff attorney for the United Mine Workers of America and a senior policy advisor and special assistant at the Department of Labor. Before law school, Parker worked in the private sector as a sales and marketing director in communications for the Democratic National Committee and as a staff assistant for Senator Paul Wellstone.

“At the core of our work is the fundamental right for all workers to be protected on the job and empowered to speak up about unsafe conditions,” said Parker in a video released by OSHA on December 29, 2021, that commemorates accomplishments and events throughout its 50-year history. “As we look ahead to the next 50 years, we must continue working hard to ensure that every worker—no matter what job they do or what language they speak—has the protections they need and deserve.”

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