On April 8, U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis named Jordan Barab, senior labor policy advisor for health and safety for the House Education and Labor Committee, OSHA’s deputy assistant secretary and acting assistant secretary effective April 13.
Barab will serve as the agency’s acting assistant secretary until an OSHA administrator is selected. There currently is no word on who will be chosen to head OSHA.
“Jordan will bring a tremendous amount of valuable health and safety experience to an agency that has been neglected for far too long,” said Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee. “Throughout his career, Jordan has demonstrated the specialized knowledge of health and safety issues needed to revamp the agency and strengthen its efforts to protect Americans while on the job. I look forward to working with Jordan and Secretary Solis to ensure that the agency works to protect the health and safety of our nation’s workers.”
Barab has worked for the House Education and Labor Committee for more than 2 years, specializing in worker health and safety issues. In addition to this role, his experience includes working for the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) from 2002-2007 and spending 16 years running AFSCME’s health and safety program. In 1998, he was appointed a special assistant to the Assistant Secretary for OSHA, where he served as national labor liaison and ergonomics coordinator.
Barab’s new OSHA appointment was met with praise from many worker health and safety advocates.
“MassCOSH is extremely pleased with President Obama's appointment of Jordan Barab to this vital post,” said Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, executive director of the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH). “You could not find anyone with a better combination of technical expertise and dedication than Jordan. We believe that Jordan will have the vision and know-how to oversee a much-needed overhaul of the nation's system for ensuring worker safety, which has failed to provide adequate protections to America’s workforce over the past 8 years.”
Barab also ran the Confined Space blog from March 2003 to January 2007, where he discussed occupational health and safety issues.
In his "farewell" blog post on January 24, 2007, Barab wrote: "And there are still far too many health and safety professionals that don't understand that to a very great extent, who lives and who dies in the workplace is determined by politics – both power relationships in the workplace, and traditional politics that determines who controls our government. What that means is that organizing unions and electing politicians who will fight against unlimited corporate control over our regulatory agencies, our workplaces and the environment are of vital importance to protecting the health and safety of American workers."
Barab is a 1975 graduate of Claremont McKenna College in California and received a master’s degree in international relations from the Johns Hopkins University in 1978. He is a native of Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.
In September 2008, Occupational Hazards named Barab one of the 50 most influential EHS leaders.