Coal mining is notoriously dangerous. The ever-present dangers of mine collapse, gas leaks and explosions are pervasive throughout the industry. This danger persists despite improvements in safety and technology. These events, while shocking and tragic, do not capture the true risk of coal mining, which includes diseases like the black lung. Safety and technology took a big step forward this year as the Mine Safety and Health Administration began implementing new rules to combat this disease.
Black lung is caused by the inhalation of coal dust and chemicals. In 2009, the MHSA launched the “End Black Lung ? Act Now Campaign” to eliminate this disease. In furtherance of that goal, all mine operators must now use continuous personal dust monitors to sample and assess dust levels. This is a device worn on the belt, which allows it to measure coal dust levels in real time, allowing miners to take the necessary measures to stay safe.
The implementation of these new processes is good news for those who earn their livings in the coalmines. The long-term costs of living with black lung are incalculable, from the loss of work and medical bills to the reduced quality of life and personal relationships. There is just no way to know how much this disease costs miners, so this is a big leap forward in improving mine safety.
However, these rules will take years to be fully implemented. In the meantime, miners continue to work under the ever-present shadow of black lung. If you have developed black lung and believe it is connected to your job, then you may want to speak to a workers’ compensation attorney. Long-term cases, such as black lung, can be more complicated than immediately apparent work-related injuries, but that does not mean you do not deserve compensation.