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Original research
Submission of mandatory respiratory health examinations among US coal miners participating in the Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program


Background Mandatory examination requirements for US coal miners newly entering the workforce have been in place since the 1969 Coal Act mandated chest radiographs and were updated to include spirometry with promulgation of the 2014 Mine Safety and Health Administration Dust Rule. Compliance with the mandatory respiratory screening series is described using data from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program (CWHSP).

Methods Among all radiographic and spirometry submissions to the CWHSP during 30 June 1971–15 March 2022, new underground coal miners who began work in the industry after 30 June 1971, and new underground, surface miners and contractors who began work after new regulations were implemented 1 August 2014, were identified and included in analysis.

Results Of the 115 093 unique miners who participated in the CWHSP and whose estimated entry into mining occurred during 30 June 1971–15 March 2019, 50 487 (43.9%) received their initial mandatory radiograph, and 15 452 (13.4%) submitted their initial and 3-year mandatory radiographs. Since new regulations were implemented, compliance with initial radiographs appeared to improve (80%) but compliance with 3-year radiographs remained low (11.6%). Compliance with spirometry testing was also low for initial (17.1%) and follow-up screenings (2.7%).

Conclusions The majority of new coal miners eligible for health surveillance did not receive a baseline radiograph or spirometry test through the CWHSP even though coal mine operators are required by law to provide these. Ensuring coal miners’ regular participation in health surveillance from early in their careers is an important way to monitor and protect their respiratory health.

  • Occupational Health
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Public Health Surveillance
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial
  • Coal Mining

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request. Email for further inquiry.

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