Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Beginning in March 2017, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) will offer 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 will be provided through the state-of-the-art NIOSH mobile testing unit at convenient community and mine locations. This public health outreach is in response to a well-documented increase in serious disease. This year’s first focus starts the week of March 26 and ends on April 15, 2017, in coal mining regions throughout Alabama. The second focus starts the week of May 10 and ends on May 31, 2017, throughout Illinois and Indiana. A third focus will be conducted in coal mining regions throughout Eastern Kentucky, starting on July 30 and ending August 26, 2017. Local and individual outreach will be done in all specific locations. All coal miners (current, former, underground, surface, and contract) are welcome to participate.
“The NIOSH surveillance program and access to free screenings helps recognize early disease in miners and enables those with black lung to take action to reduce their dust exposures,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “These services, available to both underground and surface miners, help to disseminate knowledge, raise awareness, and motivate workers to participate in activities aimed at preventing the disease.”
The screening provided by NIOSH will include a work history questionnaire, a chest radiograph, a respiratory assessment questionnaire, and spirometry testing. Blood pressure screening will be offered as well. Typically, the process takes about 30 minutes. NIOSH provides the individual miner with the results of their own screening. 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;
- Detection at an early stage of some chest problems other than "black lung."
NIOSH encourages miners and their families to find out additional information about the Program at the following website: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/cwhsp/ecwhsp.html.