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Actors’ Equity Hires Former OSHA Administrator to Develop Safety Protocols for Broadway and Live Theater

Dr. David Michaels served in Obama administration from 2009-2017

Actors’ Equity Association, the national union for professional actors and stage managers in live theater, has hired the former Occupational Safety and Health Administration administrator Dr. David Michaels to help develop new safety protocols that will allow Broadway and live theater to reopen, the group announced Friday.

Michaels will consult for the union, effective immediately, to help develop new model health and safety standards for live theater in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He is currently a professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the Milken Institute School of Public Health of the George Washington University. From 2009 to 2017, he served as the assistant secretary of labor for OSHA during the Obama administration.

“David’s expertise will be invaluable during this unprecedented time,” Mary McColl, executive director of Actors’ Equity Association, said in a statement. “Ultimately, while the employers are solely responsible for ensuring the health and safety of all actors and stage managers, Equity is committed to being an industry leader to help develop model health and safety standards that will eventually allow us to reopen and maintain a safe and healthy workplace.”

Earlier this week, the Equity Council unanimously passed a new internal membership rule that members may only return to work when the union deems it safe to do so. Further, they will not sign over their rights to a safe workplace. Michaels will be key in making sure member safety is put first and is done so on a scientific basis.

The Broadway League, which represents Broadway producers and theater owners, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story.

The Actors Equity Association represents more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers.

Deadline first reported the news of Dr. Michaels’ hiring.