House Labor Committee Marking Up Diacetyl Bill Wednesday

The U.S. House Education and Labor Committee is set to mark up two bills Wednesday morning, including one that would direct OSHA to issue an emergency interim final exposure standard for workers exposed to the popcorn flavoring ingredient diacetyl. The other bill would provide collective bargaining rights for states' public safety officers.

U.S. Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., chairman of the committee's Workforce Protections Subcommittee, filed the diacetyl bill June 13. It would require OSHA to issue a final standard within two years after the interim standard is issued, and the interim standard would apply to the food flavorings industry and the microwave popcorn production and packaging industry, Woolsey said when she introduced it. "It is with some reluctance that I offer this legislation," she said. "Over 35 years ago, Congress gave OSHA the authority to address workplace hazards, and gave the agency the ability to issue emergency standards. But OSHA has not acted. OSHA has known that diacetyl causes bronchiolitis obliterans or popcorn lung for over five years ever since the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health published evidence in 2002 linking diacetyl to bronchiolitis obliterans, yet OSHA has not even issued an information bulletin. Last year, House Democrats urged the Labor Department to address this serious health hazard. OSHA has not responded. Also last year, two labor unions, supported by a letter signed by 42 of the nation's leading occupational health scientists and physicians, petitioned the agency for an emergency standard. OSHA has still not responded to that petition."

Her bill says the OSHA standard should contain requirements for airborne exposure assessments, medical surveillance for workers, referral for prompt medical evaluation, protective equipment and clothing for workers exposed to diacetyl, and written safety and health information and training to employees. Markups of the two bills are scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. Eastern time.

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