Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Unions Petition Cal/OSHA For Popcorn Lung Standard

The United Food and Commercial Workers union and the California State Labor Federation have petitioned Cal/OSHA for an emergency temporary standard to protect workers against the damaging lung disease caused by diacetyl, a deadly chemical used in flavorings.T
he UFCW and the California Labor Federation are petitioning the Standards Board to require employers to control airborne exposure to diacetyl and ensure that all employees who are exposed to a certain airborne level of the chemical are provided with air purifying respirators. The safety of these workers would be additionally monitored through medical surveillance and regular consultations.

The petition also demands that Cal/OSHA immediately issue a bulletin to all employers and employees potentially exposed to diacetyl outlining the dangers of the chemical. Cal/OSHA is being asked to conduct inspections and begin rule-making proceedings to establish a permanent standard that will put an end to this tragic epidemic and protect workers from exposure to all flavorings.
There are 16 to 20 plants producing flavorings in the state of California, according to CalOSHA.

Last month, the UFCW and the Teamsters petitioned federal OSHA for a standard. The AFL-CIO followed up with a letter of support to OSHA, stating that "clearly, in the absence of a standard and proper control measures, workers exposed to the flavoring diacetyl face a grave danger."

California, and 20 other states that have federally approved OSHA "state plans," are authorized to issue their own health and safety standards, as long as they are "at least as effective" as federal OSHA standards. They can also go beyond federal standards. California, for example, is the only state to have an ergonomics and a heat standard -- although they're both relatively weak.

More here.
More on popcorn lung here.