Labor Secretary Solis announced today the next step in OSHA’s effort to propose a rule to protect workers exposed to the butter-flavoring agent diacetyl.  The Small Business Administration and OSHA identified 13 “small-entity representatives” (SERs, defined by SBA as companies with 500 or fewer employees nationwide) to serve on the panel which allows them to review the proposed regulatory text and regulatory analysis, and make recommendations for changes to the draft proposed rule before it is published in the Federal Register for the standard public comment period.   In OSHA’s letter to the SERs, the agency indicated that it expected to hold the teleconference panel meeting during the week of May 18.  The SERs invited to participate in this pre-proposal review include: 

The 13 invited SERs received a package to review, which included the draft regulatory text options (28-page PDF), regulatory flexibility analysis (73-page PDF ) and discussion issues (4-page PDF).  The firms were notified that the teleconference discussion will take about 3 hours and will be open to the public.  As I noted in a March 17 post on THP entitled “OSHA’s New Direction on Diacetyl“, this will be the first SBREFA panel in which SBA and OSHA will open the SBREFA discussion to the public.

After the SERs provide their oral and written comments, OSHA has 60 days to prepare a report summarizing the SBREFA panel’s work.  The report becomes part of the rulemaking record and is supposed to inform OSHA’s policy decisions.  If OSHA staff and leadership proceed on a fast track, a proposed rule on diacetyl could appear in the Federal Register [I predict] as early November 2009.

Kudos! to Jordan Barab and the staff at OSHA (i.e., Dorothy Dougherty’s and Bob Burt’s shop) for demonstrating that when given a chance, they can walk and chew gum at the same time.

Celeste Monforton, MPH, DrPH is an assistant research professor at the GWU School of Public Health.  She and David Michaels [no relation to the SER David Michael & Company name above] wrote  “Scientific evidence in the regulatory system: Manufacturing uncertainty and the demise of the formal regulatory system” (J Law & Policy, 2005) in which they used OSHA’s response to diacetyl from 2000 to 2008 as an example of public health regulatory system failure.