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Surge in black lung disease for coal miners in central Appalachia

On Behalf of | Jul 27, 2018 | Workplace Illness |

Whether it is the first day on the job or a position you have held for decades, if the industry you work in carries with it health risks, it is important for employees in Ohio and elsewhere to be aware of this situation. This means understanding ways to reduce the risks of an occupational disease, as well as the signs and symptoms associated with these potential diseases. This can help a worker get the medical attention they need in a timely manner, and it can help a worker seek workers’ compensation benefits for missing work while he or she is recuperating.

Based on the findings on a new study conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and published in the American Journal of Public Health, it was found that there is recent surge in black lung disease cases concentrated among the coal miners working in central Appalachia. Researchers found that the rate of black lung disease among experienced coal miners in this area are the highest they have ever seen in the past quarter of a century.

The rate of this occupational disease is roughly one in 10 for the entire U.S. However, the rate among those working in central Appalachia is around one in five. This rate is especially concerning. The study in question focused on workers considered to be active, underground miners with 25 or more years of experience. Researchers believe that the rate could actually be higher, as only the participants of this study are included in the findings.

Black lung is a disease that is caused by the exposure to coal dust. Federal regulations for this industry requires that this exposure to be controlled by the mining industry. However, the rate of this occupational disease suggests that miners are currently being exposed to way too much dust while working in the mines. Just a month ago, there was a fundamental shift in how the mining industry monitors and controls coal dust.

No one expects to suffer harm in the workplace, especially a serious illness or disease. Unfortunately, this could happen to anyone, even if he or she does not work in a workplace prone to occupational illnesses. When such an incident occurs, it is imperative to take steps to explore one’s options and rights, such as recovering workers’ compensation benefits.