Tuesday, June 19, 2007

OSHA start doing your job!

This was sent by a dear friend Jordan Barab!

In an effort to get the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to start doing the job that Congress gave it over 35 years ago, Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, along with more than a dozen Democratic co-sponsors, introduced legislation (HR 2693) last week to force OSHA to issue a standard to protect workers against diacetyl, the artifical butter flavoring that causes "popcorn lung" or broncheolitis obliterans. The bill would require OSHA to issue an "Interim Temporary Standard" within 90 days that would cover the flavoring manufacturing industry and microwave popcorn facilities. Within two years, OSHA would be required to issue a standard covering all workplaces where workers are exposed to diacetyl. The Education and Labor Committee will mark up the bill tomorrow.

Introduction of the bill followed an April 24 hearing focusing on the Bush administration's failure to issue standards. Eric Peoples, a 35 year old victim of popcorn lung who needs a double lung transplant, testified at the hearing. "I played by the rules. I worked to support my family. This unregulated industry virtually destroyed my life. Don't let it destroy the lives of others," Peoples asked the committee.

Below is an article from the Cincinnati Enquirer.http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070616/BIZ01/706160339/1076/BIZ

Butter-chemical bill unveiled
Lawmakers hope to force OSHA to act

Frustrated with what they say is foot-dragging by the Bush administration, 14 Democratic members of Congress have introduced a bill aimed at lessening worker exposure to a potentially deadly chemical used to make butter flavorings.

The chemical, called diacetyl, replicates the flavor of butter in popcorn and other foods and was the subject of a May 27 Enquirer article. It is not banned, and no exposure limits have been set in production plants, but lawmakers, unions and occupational-health experts have called for establishment of controls on diacetyl.

Although a medical link has not been proved, diacetyl is alleged in private lawsuits to have caused severe respiratory damage in hundreds of flavor- and popcorn-factory workers. The widow of a former worker at Givaudan Flavors Corp. in Carthage claims in a lawsuit that diacetyl killed her husband in 2006.

U.S. Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., proposed the bill Wednesday. She accused the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration of failing to limit worker exposure.
"OSHA has known about this hazard for years and has yet to take the necessary steps to address it," Woolsey said in a statement. "Since the administration has no intention of taking action on its own to protect workers, we will force them to act and hold them accountable on behalf of the workers."

On April 24, OSHA announced its intent to conduct more inspections of popcorn plants and provide "direction" in controlling diacetyl hazards.
But it stopped short of writing emergency and permanent rules governing diacetyl.
Without a "permissible exposure limit" for diacetyl, use of the chemical falls under OSHA's so-called "general duty clause."

The provision requires employers to maintain work places that are "free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm" to workers.
Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky are home to at least four flavorings companies, though not all use diacetyl.

A spokesman for the industry trade group, the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association, said it supports Woolsey's bill.

Association general counsel John Hallagan said the group supports legislation that could lead to appropriate, science-based regulation to enhance the safety of workers in the flavor industry.
"This legislation calls for regulation by OSHA that is very similar to the recommendations to protect workers that (the association) made three years ago in its report, 'Respiratory Health and Safety in the Flavor Manufacturing Workplace.' "

Occupational-health experts consider diacetyl as a leading culprit for a rare, irreversible lung disease called bronchiolitis obliterans. People with the disease lose breathing capacity and often must avoid even mildly strenuous physical activity.

Those in the advanced stages of the disease must carry an oxygen tank or undergo lung transplants.

No comments:

Print Page