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NIOSH Announces Free, Confidential Screenings in 2019 for Coal Miners

February 14, 2019
NIOSH Update:Publish

Press contact: Anita Wolfe (304) 285-6263

NIOSH Mobile Testing Unit

Confidential health screenings for coal miners are provided through NIOSH’s state-of-the- art mobile testing unit. Photo by NIOSH.

Beginning in April 2019, 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 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 April 8 in Grants, New Mexico.  The following weeks from April 15 through May 31, 2019, will be in coal mining regions throughout the Western United States (New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and North Dakota).  Eight weeks of surveys are planned this year throughout the Western U.S.

“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 miner’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 and Facebook and at @NIOSHBreathe on 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.