Solis Announces Diacetyl Panel Meeting

Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis recently announced that 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.

The SBREFA allows for small businesses that may be affected by a proposed rule to review the proposal and provide comments before an agency publishes it in the Federal Register. The SBREFA panel, comprised of OSHA, the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy, and the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, reviews the draft proposed rule and supporting economic analyses, appoints small entity representatives (SER) to provide comments, and prepares a report on the SER's comments and recommendations.

"The goal of the process is to develop recommendations designed to assure accuracy of the supporting analyses and to identify alternatives that may reduce the burden on small businesses," Solis said. Last month, she withdrew an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to facilitate timely development of a standard to protect workers from bronchiolitis obliterans, a serious and potentially fatal lung disease associated with exposure to diacetyl.

"I am alarmed that workers exposed to food flavorings containing diacetyl may continue to be at risk of developing a potentially fatal lung disease. Exposure to this harmful chemical already has been linked to the deaths of at least three workers," she said. "These deaths are preventable, and it is imperative that the Labor Department move quickly to address these hazards."

Once OSHA convenes the SBREFA process, the panel will meet with SER to obtain their recommendations. The panel must complete the process and submit its final report within 60 days after being convened. Materials provided to SER have been placed in Docket Number OSHA-2008-0046, which is available at www.regulations.gov. OSHA also will put the panel's final report in that docket.

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