May 22, 2009 The Pump Handle 2Comment

A few days ago, I expressed my annoyance with OSHA about its SBREFA meeting on the  draft proposed rule on diacetyl, the lung-damaging, butter-tasting food additive.   OSHA had announced earlier in the year that this pre-proposal dialogue with small employer would be “open to the public.”  I anxiously awaited public notification about the open meeting, only to find out on Wednesday afternoon it had already taken place.  I asked myself: Did OSHA make an announcement about the date, time and place of the meeting and I just failed to see it? 

I contacted OSHA’s Office of Communications, left a message with Richard DeAngelis (media specialist), and asked the manner and content of OSHA’s notice to the public for this open meeting.  Mr. DeAngelis returned my call later that day, leaving a voice mail that directed me to:

read OSHA’s April 28 news release.   In it, he suggested by voice mail, it announced the details of the public meeting.   He kindly offered to help me find it on OSHA’s website, mentioned something about a May 5th date, and left a return phone number.  

OK, maybe I miss read the news release.  I certainly don’t recall details with the date, time and location of the open-to-the-public SBREFA panel meeting, but I’ll look at it again.  

Here’s what the news release says:

“Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis today announced that the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will convene a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) panel May 5 on a draft proposed rule on occupational exposure to diacetyl and food flavorings containing diacetyl.”

Mr. DeAngelis mentioned in his voice mail to me the May 5th date, indicating, I think, that this was the agency’s public notice.  I had originally read that May 5th date, but figured it was irrelevant or erroneous because documents in OSHA’s docket said the SBREFA meeting was planned for the week of May 18th.  

I’m still interested in learning how (or if) OSHA notified the public of the promised “open-to-the-public” SBREFA meeting that was held on May 19 and 20.   I’ll call and left another message yesterday with OSHA’s Mr. DeAngelis.   (I know he’s just the messenger and someone in OSHA’s office of standards and/or office of regulatory analysis has the answer.)

Celeste Monforton, MPH, DrPH was a career employee at OSHA and MSHA from 1991-2001.   She’s not a fan of SBREFA (because of the delay it adds to issuing health protective worker standards);  because the SBREFA panel meetings have not been open to the public she was really eager to see for herself if they add any value to the rulemaking process.   She’s heard from at least one Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who was also disappointed to learn that OSHA held this SBREFA meeting without letting us know about it—after promising that it would be open to the public.




2 thoughts on “Is a meeting “public” if they don’t tell us: Part II

  1. Shulquist,
    I think it is an OSHA-led discussion with the selected small employer representatives, going over the regulatory alternatives and regulatory text. Because they have not been open to the public, only those who have participated would be able to answer your question based on first-hand knowledge.

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