A fraction of coal miners who develop black lung disease will receive lung transplants. The treatment costs for this work-related disease should be borne by coal mine operators, but taxpayers through Medicare, are picking up the tab.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled late last month to uphold an OSHA rule to protect 2.3 million workers who are exposed to respirable crystalline silica. A three judge panel was not convinced by any of the arguments to reject the OSHA rule that were made by attorneys for the National Association of Home Builders, American Foundry Society, and other industry groups. The judges’ 60-page opinion had this bottom line: “We reject all of Industry’s challenges.”
President Trump boasted yesterday at a photo op of his plans to cut the “red tape of regulations.” His regulatory agenda ignores his crush on coal miners by threatening current rules to prevent black lung disease.
Appeals Court judges Merrick Garland and David Tatel probed and cajoled a courtroom filled with attorneys who were either challenging or defending OSHA’s 2016 silica standard. I share some of my favorite quotes from the September 26 proceeding.
Pres. Trump’s nominee to head the nation’s mine safety agency testified today at a Senate confirmation hearing. David Zatezalo answered questions about an epidemic of lung disease among coal miners and the adequacy of MSHA’s inspection force.
Like Capt. Louis Renault in the film Casablanca, I could declare “I’m shocked, shocked to learn about the epidemic of black lung disease in the U.S.”
An NPR investigation identified nearly 1,000 new cases in Appalachia of the most severe form of black lung disease. The government’s surveillance system recorded just a fraction of them.
Mining is one of the most dangerous jobs in America, with more than 600 workers dying in fatal workplace incidents between 2004 and the beginning of July. And many more miners die long after they’ve left the mines from occupational illnesses such as black lung disease, while others live with the debilitating aftermath of workplace injuries. Today, researchers know a great deal about the health risks miners face on the job, but some pretty big gaps remain.
“Bad math” and “slippery language” is how Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) characterized some of the testimony at this week’s congressional hearing on OSHA’s new silica regulation.
Here are some of my favorite quotes in response to OSHA publishing a final rule on silica dust.