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Federal agency helps coal miners detect black lung disease

A work injury can lead to many complications. There is the immediate pain and suffering that an injury can cause. Then there are medical bills and lost wages that can accumulate as an injured worker recovers from the injury. Even when a worker has recovered from the injury, he or she may not be able to perform the job duties required of them and may have to find employment elsewhere.

This type of situation can become frustrating. For workers who sustain a work-related injury, claiming workers' compensation benefits can help to alleviate much of the stress due to finances.

In order to get these benefits, the worker typically has to show that he or she was actually injured. For injuries such as broken bones, this can be more easily proven. But when it comes to certain occupational diseases, such as lung disease, it can be more difficult to correlate the working conditions to the specific injury.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is offering surface coal miners the opportunity to be screened for black lung disease all throughout the month of March. Not only could a screening help to intervene before the disease becomes life-threatening but the documentation could be used to show that a worker contracted an occupational disease.

Coal miners can contract black lung disease if they breathe in the dust-filled air from the mines. If this air is breathed in over a long period of time, the lung disease can develop into lung cancer and may become fatal.

An occupational disease can quickly impact a worker's ability to perform job duties. Once a worker is diagnosed with an occupational disease, it is important for them to get the medical treatment they need. Though it is costly, workers' compensation can help cover some of the expenses.

Source: EHS Today online, "NIOSH to Offer Black Lung Screenings for Surface Coal Miners," Laura Walter, 23 February 2011

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Eley Law Firm
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