[See update at end of post]
The OMB websiteÂ which lists those rules currently under review by OIRA has a new itemÂ today:Â something from OSHAÂ on Diacetyl.Â Â (SeeÂ this screenshot for the OMB listing,Â andÂ this reference to the rule on Regs.gov.)Â You’ll recall this is the butter-flavoring agent associated with severe respiratory disease in exposed workers, including individualsÂ working in microwave popcorn plants.
It’s difficult to determine from either of these screenshots exactly what kind of document OMB/OIRA is reviewing for OSHA.Â The only hint I see is theÂ “prerule” classification which suggests that itÂ might be an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM)—-a pre-regulatory action that IGNORES the substantial evidence of the graveÂ health risk to exposed workers.Â Â In July 2006, when the United Food and Commercial Workers Int’l Union and the Teamsters petitioned Labor Secretary Chao for a health standard to protect diacetyl-exposed workers, they asked specifically for an emergency temporary standard due to the gravity of the risk.Â Â
If OMB is reviewing anÂ OSHA ANPRM on diacetyl,Â shame on DOLÂ and OSHA leadership.Â This wouldÂ truly be anÂ insincere and callous move by the Bush AdministrationÂ toÂ pretend theyÂ taking action to protect workers.Â There’s nothing to be gained from an ANPRM on diacetyl that couldn’t be obtained through public comments on a proposed rule.Â WeÂ know, however, thatÂ DOL’s Asst. Secretary for Policy, Leon Sequiera, has been pushing aÂ regulatory change (the now notorious “secret rule”) whichÂ would require OSHAÂ and MSHA to publish an ANPRMÂ before any health standard is proposed.Â Â
If, on the other hand, OMB is reviewingÂ OSHA’s draft risk assessment and regulatory text, which would then allowÂ the Agency toÂ begin the SBREFA process: HALLELUJAH!!Â
At least one year ago, the Labor Secretary indicated in her regulatory agenda that the SBREFA process on a diacetyl rule would begin in January 2008 (see 72 Fed Reg 70092, Dec 10, 2007).Â Â If the SBREFA package IS what is being reviewed at OMB, it’s about time.
Update (12/18/08): BNA’s Greg Hellman confirmed with DOL sources that the document sent by OSHA to OMB was an ANPRM.Â I retract my HALLELUJAH.