The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has begun offering a series of free, confidential health screenings to coal miners as part of the Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program (CWHSP). The screenings are intended to provide early detection of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP), also known as black lung, a serious but preventable occupational lung disease in coal miners caused by breathing respirable coal mine dust.
The health screenings are provided through the state-of-the-art NIOSH mobile testing units at convenient community and mine locations. This year’s first week of surveys will begin March 19 through March 23 in coal mining regions throughout Western KY. The following week, March 26 through 30, screenings are offered throughout Mingo, Logan, and Wayne Counties in WV. Additional survey locations include coal mining regions throughout the rest of WV, PA, OH, and MD. Twelve weeks of surveys are planned this year.
“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 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.”
Screenings provided by NIOSH will include a work history questionnaire, a chest radiograph, a respiratory assessment questionnaire, spirometry testing, and blood pressure screening. The screenings typically take about 30 minutes and each individual miner is provided with their results. By law, each person’s results are confidential. No individual information is publicly disclosed.
Participation in this program gives the coal miner:
- An easy way of checking on their health;
- A confidential report regarding whether or not they have radiographic evidence of CWP;
- A confidential report about their lung function.
Miners can look for survey announcements on the program’s web page, Facebook and @NIOSHBreathe twitter. Local and individual outreach will be done in all specific locations. All coal miners - current, former, underground, surface, and those under contract - are welcome to participate.
NIOSH encourages miners and their families to go to the CWHSP web page to learn additional information about the program. You may also call the toll free number (1-888-480-4042) with questions.
NIOSH is the federal institute that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. For more information about NIOSH visit www.cdc.gov/niosh/.