The coal industry's importance to our area is well-known across the
nation. We are known for the mining work that helps provide energy to
the entire nation, as well as the hard-working men and women who do that
work. Unfortunately, mining is dangerous work. In addition to the risk
that comes along with working with heavy machinery and underground, workers
in the coal industry are exposed to a number of hazardous chemicals every day.
Among the hazards to which miners are exposed is the dust generated by
the process, which can cause many health problems. One of the most well-known
diseases caused by coal dust is coalworkers' pneumoconiosis (CWP),
better known as "black lung disease." CWP occurs when coal dust
builds up in the lungs, causing damage that can include excessive scarring
A particularly severe form of CWP, called progressive massive fibrosis
(PMF), occurs when scarring becomes so thick that it creates large masses
on the lungs. PMF causes serious breathing problems and other symptoms,
and can be fatal.
Regrettably, PMF is more prevalent in our region of the country than in
others. In fact, as long ago as 2005, researchers at the National Institute
for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found disturbing clusters of
this rare illness in Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
NIOSH's 2005 article can be found online
The researchers at NIOSH found that while workers were developing CWP less
often across the nation because of laws designed to protect miners, the
most serious cases of PMF were still appearing. Disturbingly, the researchers
found that the clustering of PMF cases might demonstrate "inadequate
prevention measures in specific regions," stressing the need for
"prompt investigations to identify preventable causes and appropriate
additional actions to prevent further disease."
Coal has provided good jobs to the people of our region for a very long
time. However, the men and women working in the industry deserve a safe
place to work. Thankfully, as the NIOSH researchers found, prevention
is possible. The law can strike a balance between industry and the health
and safety of workers. Across the spectrum of industries that employ the
men and women of our area, workers hurt on the job have been turning to
Hartley & O'Brien for over 30 years. If you or a loved one has been injured on the job,
we would like to help.
Contact us today at (888) 510-6547!