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Original research
Pneumoconiosis progression patterns in US coal miner participants of a job transfer programme designed to prevent progression of disease


Objectives Pneumoconiosis prevalence and severity among US coal miners has been increasing for the past 20 years. An examination of the current approaches to primary and secondary prevention efforts is warranted. One method of secondary prevention is the Mine Safety and Health Administration-administered part 90 option programme where US coal miners with radiographic evidence of pneumoconiosis can exercise their right to be placed in a less dusty area of the mine. This study focuses on characterising the progression of disease among US coal miners who participated in the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health-administered Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Programme (CWHSP) and exercised their part 90 job transfer option.

Methods Chest radiograph classifications of working underground coal miners who exercised their part 90 job transfer option during 1 January 1986 to 21 November 2016 and participated in the CWHSP during 1 January 1981 to 19 March 2019 were analysed.

Results 513 miners exercised their part 90 option and participated in the CWHSP at least once during this time period. Of the 149 miners with ≥2 radiographs available, 48 (32%) showed progression after exercising part 90 and had more severe disease prior to exercising, compared with miners who did not progress (severity score of 2.8 vs 1.7, p=0.0002).

Conclusion The part 90 job transfer option programme is not routinely used as intended to prevent progression of pneumoconiosis among US coal miners. The one-third of miners who participated in part 90 and continued to progress, exercised their part 90 option at a later stage of disease compared with non-progressors.

  • epidemiology
  • occupational health practice
  • pneumoconioses

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