To almost everyone’s delight, OSHA has filled the vital position of the Director of the Directorate of Construction (DOC). The DOC Director position is always challenging to fill. It requires a high degree of construction safety knowledge, as well as a move to D.C., which is not appealing to all OSHA veterans.
Scott Ketcham has held multiple leadership roles, including Deputy Director of the DOC since February 2017. He has solid construction experience and has worked well with all stakeholders. When critical OSHA leadership positions are left unfilled, there is no one to advocate for the organization or provide guidance. The burgeoning construction industry and ever-changing building technology require a nimble and strong DOC. While the parties do not always agree, Ketcham will work with a stable of highly experienced Union Crafts and Employers.
Below is the text of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Press release:
Prior to coming to OSHA's national office, Ketcham worked for 19 years as an OSHA acting deputy regional administrator, area director, assistant area director, and compliance officer and manager in offices in the Seattle, Dallas and Philadelphia regions. Before joining OSHA, he spent five years as a staff industrial hygienist with the U.S. Army Medical Activity at Bassett Army Hospital on Ft. Wainwright, Alaska. He retired from the U.S. Army after 24 years of active and reserve service.
Ketcham has a strong background in the general industry, maritime and construction industries.
"Scott Ketcham is a dedicated public servant," said Loren Sweatt, principal deputy assistant secretary of Occupational Safety and Health. "He has demonstrated strong leadership throughout his OSHA career, and I am confident he will continue to achieve the mission of assuring safe and healthful working conditions for construction workers in his new position."
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to help ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.
Among other challenges, hopefully the new Director will ensure that the Directorate of Construction, as well as ACCSH, the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health, plays an active role in the expansion of Table 1 of the silica standard given that it will directly impact the construction industry. Employers also hope that the DOC will continue its direct engagement and partnerships with industry stakeholders.
Unfortunately, as reported by Bruce Rolfson, Bloomberg Law, crucial OSHA Leadership positions remain open:
Ketcham’s appointment leaves OSHA with three of its eight headquarters directorates overseen by acting heads and four of its 10 regional offices led by acting administrators. OSHA’s top spot has been vacant since the start of the Trump administration.
Nor has either party yet meaningfully sought to adequately fund this important agency.