In September 2021, 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 screenings will be held from September 9 through September 24 in areas throughout southern West Virginia.
“Black lung disease can occur in miners who work in mines of all sizes,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “Early detection of black lung disease allows underground, surface and contract miners to take the steps needed to keep it from progressing to severe lung disease.”
Screenings include a work history questionnaire, an x-ray, a respiratory assessment questionnaire, and blood pressure screening. The screenings typically take about 15 minutes and each individual miner is provided with their results. By law, each miner’s results are confidential. Individual medical information and test results are protected health information and not publicly disclosed. Spirometry, a common breathing test, will not be conducted during this year’s survey.
Participation in this program provides the coal miner:
- An easy way of checking on their health
- A confidential report regarding whether or not they have x-ray evidence of CWP
The NIOSH mobile health unit is considered a “healthcare setting” so COVID-19 prevention strategies will be followed.
Please watch for health screening locations, dates, and additional announcements on the CWHSP web page, CWHSP Facebook, and @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.