US Department of Labor launches awareness effort for miners with black lung, promote testing to reduce exposures to hazardous levels of coal dust
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor today announced an effort to raise awareness of regulations that give coal miners with development of pneumoconiosis, or black lung, the right to work at a section of a mine with lower levels of dust without having their pay reduced or fearing discrimination or termination.
Part 90 of the Title 30 Code of Federal Regulations protects miners diagnosed with pneumoconiosis, a disease caused by inhaling dust. The regulation applies to all miners at the nation’s surface and underground coal mines, including loadout facilities and preparation plants.
The department’s Mine Safety and Health Administration is launching its Part 90 educational initiative to inform these workers of their eligibility for free medical exams if they believe they have black lung. Mine operators will pay for the exams, which will be approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. If diagnosed, miners with black lung have the right to work in a section of a mine with low dust levels.
The Part 90 initiative is part of MSHA’s broader “Miner Health Matters” campaign to ensure that miners’ health is considered as important as miners’ safety. In addition to raising awareness, the campaign includes enforcement and outreach efforts to ensure miners working in potentially dangerous environments take proper precautions to limit exposures to silica and other dangerous toxins.
“The U.S. Department of Labor is showing that Miner Health Matters by helping the nation’s miners protect their health,” said Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health Christopher J. Williamson. “This initiative will help make sure mining industry workers know their rights and how to exercise them to reduce their exposure to the dangers of high levels of coal dust.”
To make information easily accessible, MSHA has updated its web site to highlight miners’ rights to protect their health and to understand and use the Part 90 program.
Assistant Secretary Williamson will discuss the Part 90 program and other efforts to protect miners on Sept. 30 at the 2022 conference of the National Coalition of Black Lung and Respiratory Disease Clinics in St. Louis.
Read Assistant Secretary Williamson’s blog about how MSHA is working to protect miners’ health.