David Michaels PhD, MPH is an epidemiologist and professor at the George Washington University School of Public Health. His primary expertise is in worker safety and health, and he has held sub-Cabinet Senate-confirmed public health positions in the administrations of President Barack Obama (in which he was Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health) and President Bill Clinton (Assistant Secretary of Energy for Environment, Safety and Health).
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Michaels has focused on improving the protection of workers exposed to SARS-CoV-2. He has written and consulted extensively on the topic and is a member of the Biden-Harris Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board. He served on the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s expert panel that developed a Framework for Equitable Allocation of Vaccine for the Novel Coronavirus, and is a founding member of the Lancet COVID-19 Commission’s Task Force on Safe Work, Safe School, and Safe Travel.
Michaels is a leader in efforts to protect the integrity of the science underpinning public health and environmental protections, and is the author of “The Triumph of Doubt: Dark Money and the Science of Deception" (Oxford University Press, 2020) and "Doubt is Their Product" (Oxford University Press, 2008), as well as numerous articles in Science, JAMA, and other leading scientific publications.
Michaels served as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health from 2009 through January 2017, and was the longest serving administrator in OSHA's history. Under his leadership, OSHA strengthened exposure standards for silica and beryllium, and issued new rules on safety, injury and illness record-keeping and reporting, and hazard communication. He launched OSHA’s Temporary Workers Initiative; greatly increased the agency’s activities protecting healthcare workers; expanded OSHA's activities to protect whistleblowers under Sarbanes-Oxley, Dodd-Frank, and 19 other financial, environmental, transportation, and public health laws; and issued OSHA's first compliance guide and recommended practices for employers for preventing and addressing workplace retaliation.
Since leaving OSHA, much of Michaels' work has focused is on the relationship between safety and health management systems, operational excellence and sustainability. He has lectured extensively on the topic and directed OSHA's first activities on sustainability in environment, social and governance (ESG).