Today's News

MSHA targets black lung with new rule (10/18)

October 17, 2010
/ Print / Reprints /
/ Text Size+

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is proposing to cut in half the exposure limit for coal dust, the cause of black lung disease. MSHA estimates the new standard will prevent thousands of illnesses and hundreds of deaths over the lifetimes of miners.

“The proposed rule would lower the existing concentration limits for respirable coal mine dust from 2 milligrams of dust per cubic meter of air, or 2 mg/m³, to 1 mg/m³ over a 24-month phase-in period,” MSHA said yesterday. The 1mg/m3 standard is consistent with recommendations made by a Department of Labor advisory committee and by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), both from the 1990s. MSHA is also proposing to change the way coal dust is monitored. According to former MSHA official and mine safety expert Celeste Monforton, the proposed rule would “change the way miners' exposure to coal dust is measured from an average over five shifts to a single, full-shift sample (consistent with standard industrial hygiene practice) and monitor of coal dust levels based on typical production levels in the mine.”

Prolonged exposure to coal dust can cause coal workers' pneumoconiosis (CWP), commonly referred to as black lung, which leads to serious pulmonary problems and, in the worst cases, death. Although long recognized as a serious but preventable risk, incidents of black lung are actually on the rise, according to NIOSH.

The preamble to the proposed rule says that the changes would prevent more than 2,800 cases of CWP, almost 800 cases of progressive massive fibrosis (a progressive form of CWP), almost 700 cases of severe emphysema, and 131 deaths from non-malignant respiratory disease, all over a 45-year work life.

MSHA has proposed new standards for black lung in the past but failed to finalize them. “During the Clinton and the GW Bush Administration, MSHA proposed rules addressing these same problems, but they were never issued as a final rules,” Monforton said. “I'm hopeful this third time will be the charm.”

MSHA is developing the standard as a part of its “End Black Lung – Act Now!” initiative, the goal of which is to eliminate black lung disease. MSHA will publish a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register on Oct. 19 (until then, it’s available here) and accept public comments on the standard until Dec. 18.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to ISHN.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.


Facebook logo Twitter YouTubeLinkedIn Google + icon



Image Galleries

ASSE Safety 2014 Review

A gallery of photos from the sprawling Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, where ASSE’s annual professional development conference was held June 8-11. All photos courtesy of the American Society of Safety Engineers.

9/30/14 2:00 pm EST

Leveraging Sustainability Initiatives to Benefit Your Community and Increase Compliance

This webinar will review how General Motors' Sustainability initiatives are being leveraged to improve the community and the environment, create efficient energy programs, improve sustainability tracking, impact on processes and overall reporting and improve overall social, environmental and corporate sustainability.

ISHN Magazine


2014 September

ISHN'S September issue features a series of essay on thought leadership. Get expert advice on self-motivation, compliance and more!

Table Of Contents Subscribe


M:\General Shared\__AEC Store Katie Z\AEC Store\Images\ISHN\safetyfourth.jpg
Safety Engineering, 4th Edition

A practical, solutions-driven reference, Safety Engineering, 4th edition, has been completely revised and updated to reflect many of today’s issues in safety.

More Products

For Distributors Only - SEPTEMBER 2014

ISHN FDO SEPTEMBER 2014For Distributors Only is ISHN's niche brand standard-sized magazine supplement aimed at an audience of 2,000 U.S. distributors that sell safety products. Circulation only goes to distributors. CHECK OUT THE SEPTEMBER 2014 ISSUE OF FDO HERE

ishn infographics

2012 US workplace deathsCheck out ISHN's new Infographic page! Learn more about worker safety through these interactive images. CLICK HERE to view the page.