Improve Health Standards for Coal Miners

Coal Miner

Target: Members of Congress

Goal: Redefine acceptable health standards for coal miners and provide oversight to prevent fraudulent exposure reporting.

Since 1970, when federal regulation established “health conscious” levels of coal mine dust exposure, 70,000 miners have died with black lung, and $45 billion has been spent compensating victims. Increased workweeks, use of harmful mining machines and fraudulent dust level reporting has led to a spike in black lung diagnosis, especially among young miners. Please sign this petition and support proposed legislation to reduce miner exposure and increase oversight to provide more protection for American coal miners.

The Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 was intended to regulate the coal mining industry by setting a standard of exposure to 2 milligrams per cubic meter of air, about ¼ of the concentrations miners breathed at the time. Miners went on strike after the act passed, demanding compensation for victims and government efforts to prevent disease going forward. Dust exposure limits, free diagnostic chest X-rays every five years, and federal compensation became available. Despite these efforts, tests began to show more and more black lung, rapid disease progression, and high numbers of young miners being affected.

According to federal data obtained by the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) and National Public Radio (NPR), “the average workweek for coal miners grew 11 hours in the last 30 years, adding about 600 hours of exposure each year.” By 2010, production pressure has grown with the demand for coal, and production rates had tripled since coal dust limits took effect in 1970. Mining machines became popular and despite their increase in production, the method releases silicon dioxide, an air quality toxin more dangerous than the coal dust itself. Federal records show that in 1998 alone, about 65 percent of valid silica samples violated the federal standard. Among these issues, there is also speculation of invalid air quality sampling and reporting, thus intentionally putting coal miners at risk.

Please sign this petition and support legislation to lower black lung disease in coal miners by reevaluating air quality standards and increasing preventative health measures for miners.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Members of Congress,

The Federal Coal Mine Safety Act of 1969 established a standard coal dust exposure of 2 milligrams per cubic meter of air. Production increases, use of mining machinery and invalid reporting have led to higher rates of black lung among miners, especially young miners, in the last decade. The Robert C. Byrd Mine and Workplace Safety and Health Act of 2012 has been proposed “to improve compliance with mine and occupational safety and health laws, empower workers to raise safety concerns, prevent future mine and other workplace tragedies, and establish rights of families of victims of workplace accidents.”

Please vote in favor of this legislation in order to reevaluate exposure rates of coal and silicon dioxide, a more toxic gas that is released when using modern day mining machinery. It is necessary that we update federal exposure standards to reflect increases in production and the health costs of modern technology. Invalid sampling has been speculated as mines try to work within dated regulation. It is important for the health and safety of coal miners and their loved ones that health is the focus among meeting America’s increased demand for coal.

By supporting this legislation, you will be calling for increased oversight and regulation of the coal mining industry. The proposed bill would toughen mine safety rules, while lowering legal limits of exposure to dust and other harmful toxins. Please support the Robert C. Byrd Mine and Workplace Safety and Health Act of 2012 in favor of protecting American workers.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: judicial-corruption.net via Yahoo

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One Comment

  1. Time to get rid of coal as an energy source. It’s bad for everybody, the workers, consumers, wildlife and environment.

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