[See update at end of post]

The OMB website which lists those rules currently under review by OIRA has a new item today: something from OSHA on Diacetyl.   (See this screenshot for the OMB listing, and this reference to the rule on Regs.gov.)  You’ll recall this is the butter-flavoring agent associated with severe respiratory disease in exposed workers, including individuals 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.  The only hint I see is the “prerule” classification which suggests that it might be an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM)—-a pre-regulatory action that IGNORES the substantial evidence of the grave health risk to exposed workers.   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.  

If OMB is reviewing an OSHA ANPRM on diacetyl, shame on DOL and OSHA leadership.  This would truly be an insincere and callous move by the Bush Administration to pretend they taking action to protect workers.  There’s nothing to be gained from an ANPRM on diacetyl that couldn’t be obtained through public comments on a proposed rule.  We know, however, that DOL’s Asst. Secretary for Policy, Leon Sequiera, has been pushing a regulatory change (the now notorious “secret rule”) which would require OSHA and MSHA to publish an ANPRM before any health standard is proposed.  

If, on the other hand, OMB is reviewing OSHA’s draft risk assessment and regulatory text, which would then allow the Agency to begin the SBREFA process: HALLELUJAH!! 

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).   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.  I retract my HALLELUJAH.