Only 35 percent of active coal miners currently participate in free black lung screenings offered by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health or NIOSH. This despite the fact that cases of black lung are at a 25-year high. Federal lawmakers want NIOSH to find out why so few miners participate. But they haven’t allocated any funds to see it done.
Virginia Democrat Mark Warner introduced the amendment this week into a wide-ranging spending bill package currently being debated on the Senate floor.
If passed, the provision would require NIOSH to create a report for Congress detailing how to increase participation in black lung screening programs.
The report would also identify what barriers deter coal miners with black lung from getting treatment.
A bipartisan group of six lawmakers co-sponsored the amendment, all hailing from Appalachia. If passed, NIOSH would have 180 days to compile the report.