First secretary of labor to oversee OSHA has died

December 13, 2012

James Hodgson, the secretary of labor who helped usher OSHA into existence, died Nov. 28. He was 96.

Hodgson served as the nation’s 12th secretary of labor. Current Department of Labor head Hilda L. Solis said he left an “extraordinary legacy” in the field of occupational safety and health.

As a former Lockheed Corp. executive, Hodgson said he was used to safety being taken seriously in aircraft plants, but was “appalled” at the conditions he saw in other industries. Under his leadership, the Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Richard M. Nixon. He envisioned OSHA and helped build it in his three years as secretary.

“James Hodgson once said, ‘I’ve never had any ambitions; only enthusiasms,’” Solis said in a statement. “He was being modest, of course, since one of his ‘enthusiasms’ was worker health and safety.”

Hodgson is survived by his wife and two children, according to a DOL press release.

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