OSHA Director Stepping Down
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Gerard Scannell announced his resignation as director of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Monday after two years in which he won praise from some of those normally critical of the agency.
Scannell is stepping down to become a vice president at Johnson & Johnson, the New Brunswick, N.J., company where he had worked for 10 years before taking over OSHA.
Before Scannell, OSHA had come under fire for being either pro-business or pro-labor, depending on which political party held the White House.
″He has tried to serve all the people. His performance has been extremely responsive,″ said Joseph Kinney, a longtime OSHA critic who runs the National Safe Workplace Institute in Chicago.
Scannell’s departure had been rumored for weeks, and critics such as Kinney had complained they felt he was being pushed out by the new team at the Labor Department. Lynn Martin took over as secretary last February.
Martin’s spokesman, Steve Hofman, called such speculation ″just blatantly untrue.″ He said Scannell described the Johnson & Johnson position ″as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.″
Martin said she was accepting the resignation, effective Jan. 17, with ″sincere regret.″
Scannell has improved the agency in a number of areas, Kinney said, including enforcement of OSHA regulations and the way workers’ families are treated following fatal accidents.
During Scannell’s tenure, OSHA collected several record-breaking, multimillion-dollar settlements from corporations that violated safety laws, Kinney said.
″OSHA got tougher at the bargaining table. They were giving away the store before, and now it’s much more serious,″ Kinney said.
Scannell, in his resignation letter to Martin, said the ″decision has been exceedingly difficult. However, I have been offered a unique opportunity to return to the private sector and after considerable thought have chosen to accept that new opportunity.″