NIOSH Announces Free, Confidential Screenings for Coal Miners

The screenings are intended to detect coal workers' pneumoconiosis, or black lung, early. Black lung is a serious but preventable occupational lung disease caused by coal miners breathing respirable coal mine dust.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health announced that, beginning in April 2019, it will offer a series of free, confidential health screenings to coal miners as part of its Coal Workers' Health Surveillance Program (CWHSP).

The screenings are intended to detect coal workers' pneumoconiosis, or black lung, early. Black lung is a serious but preventable occupational lung disease caused by coal miners breathing respirable coal mine dust.

These health screenings will be provided through the NIOSH mobile testing units at convenient mine and community locations. The first week of surveys in 2019 will begin in Grants, N.M., on April 8. From April 15 through May 31, 2019, screenings will be in coal mining regions throughout the Western United States (New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and North Dakota).

"If black lung is caught early, steps can be taken to help prevent it from progressing to the most serious forms of the disease," said NIOSH Director Dr. John Howard, M.D. "The NIOSH surveillance program provides both underground and surface miners with confidential screenings that can enable and motivate action towards reducing their exposure to coal dust."

The screenings NIOSH provides will include a work history questionnaire, a chest radiograph, a respiratory assessment questionnaire, spirometry testing, and blood pressure screening. The screenings usually take about 30 minutes. Each individual miner is provided with his or her results, and each miner's results are confidential by law. No individual information is publicly disclosed.

By participating in the CWHSP, coal miners receive an easy way of checking on their health, a confidential report regarding whether they have radiographic evidence of CWP, and a confidential report about their lung function.

All coal miners—current, former, underground, surface, and contracted—are welcome to participate. More information can be found here.

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