Yesterday the National Black Lung Association and the National Coalition of Black Lung and Respiratory Disease Clinics announced their support of the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s new rule which is meant to protect coal miners from black lung disease.
The National Black Lung Association said:
The National Black Lung Association and various chapters around the country have advocated for this type of rule for many years. We are applauding the Mine Safety and Health Administration for their efforts in preventing this disease. The rule also contains language to expand medical surveillance for miners. In the past, underground coal miners had to be provided a chest x-ray by their employer every five years. Now miners, both surface and underground, will be eligible for chest x-rays and pulmonary function testing to determine if he/she has the disease. According to retired miner, Joseph Massie, “This is long overdue. Miners have known since 1969 that black lung was a preventable disease. And yet, we are still being disabled and dying from it. 76,000 miners have died from black lung since 1968. That’s 76,000 deaths that could have been prevented if there was good ventilation in the mines.”
The National Coalition of Black Lung and Respiratory Disease Clinics said it is “fully behind” the new rule.
Implementation of this rule on August 1 fulfills the promise Congress made in 1969 to end black lung disease. This new rule will save miners’ lives, reduce the incidences of black lung and improve the work environment at our nation’s mines. Miners and their families deserve these protections.