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Privacy Act System Notice 09-20-0153

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System name: Mortality Studies in Coal Mining, Metal and Non-metal Mining and General Industry. HHS/CDC/NIOSH.

Security classification: None.

System location: Division of Respiratory Disease Studies (DRDS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), 1095 Willowdale Road, Morgantown, WV 26505-2888.

Data are also occasionally located at contractor sites as studies are developed, data collected, and reports written. A list of contractor sites where individually identifiable data are currently located is available upon request to the system manager.

Also, occasionally data may be located at the facilities of collaborating researchers where analyses are performed, data collected and reports written. A list of these facilities is available upon request to the system manager. Data may be located only at those facilities that have an adequate data security program and the collaborating researcher must return the data to NIOSH or destroy individual identifiers at the conclusion of the project.

Categories of individuals covered by the system: Persons working, or having worked at coal mining operations, mining operations other than coal and in general industry, who have been exposed or potentially exposed to substances which are known or suspected respiratory irritants or carcinogens. Also included are those individuals in the general population who have been selected as a control group.

Categories of records in the system: Previous and current employment records, medical and occupational histories, demographic data, X-rays, smoking histories, results of medical tests such as pulmonary function data and spirometry test results, permission forms, industrial environmental data, and questionnaires. The specific types of records collected and maintained are determined by the research needs of the specific study.

Authority for maintenance of the system: Occupational Safety and Health Act, Section 20, "Research and Related Activities" (29 U.S.C. 669); Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, Section 101, "Mandatory Safety and Health Standards" and Section 501, "Research" (30 U.S.C. 811, 951); and the Public Health Service Act, Section 301, "Research and Investigation" (42 U.S.C. 241).

Purpose(s): The purpose of this system is to investigate occupationally related diseases at workplaces identified as general industry, surface mining, or below ground mining operations, to determine the cause and prevention of such diseases, and to evaluate whether excess occupationally related mortality is occurring.

Routine uses of records maintained in the system, including categories of users and the purposes of such uses: Data may be sent to State Vital Statistics Divisions to obtain death certificates, and to missing person location agencies to find those individuals who cannot otherwise be located.

Portions of records (name, Social Security number if known, date of birth, and last known address) may be disclosed to one or more other sources selected from those listed in Appendix I,    as applicable. This may be done for obtaining a determination as to whether or not an individual has died and, if alive, last known address. The purpose of determining death is so that NIOSH may obtain death certificates, which state the cause of death, from the appropriate Federal, State, or local agency. Cause of death enables NIOSH to evaluate whether excess occupationally related mortality is occurring.

Disclosure may be made to a congressional office from the record of an individual in response to a verified inquiry from the congressional office made at the written request of that individual.

In the event of litigation where the defendant is: (a) the Department, any component of the Department, or any employee of the Department in his or her official capacity; (b) the United States where the Department determines that the claim, if successful, is likely to directly affect the operations of the Department or any of its components; or (c) any Department employee in his or her individual capacity where the Department of Justice has agreed to represent such employee, for example, in defending a claim against the Public Health Service based upon an individual's mental or physical condition and alleged to have arisen because of activities of the Public Health Service in connection with such individual, disclosure may be made to the Department of Justice to enable that Department to present an effective defense, provided that such disclosure is compatible with the purpose for which the records were collected.

Records subject to the Privacy Act are disclosed to private firms for data entry, computer systems analysis and computer programming services. The contractors promptly return data entry records after the contracted work is completed. The contractors are required to maintain Privacy Act safeguards.

In the event of litigation initiated at the request of NIOSH, the Institute may disclose such records as it deems desirable or necessary to the Department of Justice and to the Department of Labor, Office of the Solicitor, where appropriate, to enable the Departments to effectively represent the Institute, provided such disclosure is compatible with the purpose for which the records were collected. The only types of litigative proceedings that NIOSH is authorized to request are: (1) enforcement of a subpoena issued to an employer or others to provide relevant information; or (2) administrative search warrants to obtain access to places of employment and relevant information therein and related contempt citations against an employer for failure to comply with a warrant obtained by the Institute; and (3) injunctive relief against employers or mine operators to obtain access to relevant information.

Disclosure may be made to NIOSH collaborating researchers (NIOSH contractors, grantees, cooperative agreement holders, or other Federal or State scientists) in order to accomplish the research purpose for which the records are collected. The collaborating researchers must agree in writing to comply with the confidentiality provisions of the Privacy Act and NIOSH must have determined that the researchers' data security procedures will protect confidentiality.

Records may be disclosed by CDC in connection with public health activities to the Social Security Administration for sources of locating information to accomplish the research or program purposes for which the records were collected.

Policies and practices for storing, retrieving, accessing, retaining, and disposing of records in the system:

Storage: Computer cards, tapes/disks and printouts, microfiche, and manual files.

Retrievability: Name and/or assigned numerical identifier, plant name and study are some of the indices used to retrieve records from this system. Social Security numbers, supplied on a voluntary basis, may occasionally be used for data retrieval.


  1. Authorized Users: Access is granted to only a limited number of physicians, scientists, statisticians, and designated support staff of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or its contractors, as authorized by the system manager to accomplish the stated purposes for which the data in this system have been collected.
  1. Physical Safeguards: Access to the facility is monitored, and controlled after hours, by security guard service. Hard copy records are kept in locked cabinets in locked rooms. Access to the LAN computer room is controlled by a punch lock system. The local fire department is one mile from the facility, which is of structural steel and cement block construction, with pre-cast cement panels on the envelope. No combustible materials are used in the building construction, including all interior walls. Heat sensors are installed, and portable fire extinguishers are located throughout the computer room. The active system files are backed up on a weekly basis. The entire system is backed up, with copies of the files stored in a secure, fireproof safe in a separate location within the facility.
  1. Procedural Safeguards: The NIOSH Local Area Network (LAN) computer system, located within the Morgantown facility, uses a security package to control unauthorized access to the system. Attempts to gain access by unauthorized individuals are automatically recorded and reviewed on a daily basis. Protection for computerized records both on the mainframe and the NIOSH Local Area Network (LAN) includes programmed verification of valid user identification code and password prior to logging on to the system, mandatory password changes, limited log-ins, virus protection, and user rights/file attribute restrictions. Password protection imposes user name and password log-in requirements to prevent unauthorized access. Each user name is assigned limited access rights to files and directories at varying levels to control file sharing. There are routine daily backup procedures and secure off-site storage is available for backup tapes. Additional safeguards may be built into the program by the system analyst as warranted by the sensitivity of the data.

CDC and contractor employees who maintain records are instructed to check with the system manager prior to making disclosures of data. When individually identified data are being used in a room, admittance at either CDC or contractor sites is restricted to specifically authorized personnel. Privacy Act provisions are included in contracts, and the CDC Project Director, contract officers and project officers oversee compliance with these requirements. Upon completion of the contract, all data will be either returned to CDC or destroyed, as specified by the contract.

  1. Implementation Guidelines: The safeguards outlined above are in accordance with the HHS Information Security Program Policy and FIPS Pub 200, “Minimum Security Requirements for Federal Information and Information Systems.” Data maintained on CDC’s Mainframe and the NIOSH LAN are in compliance with OMB Circular A-130, Appendix III. Security is provided for information collection, processing, transmission, storage, and dissemination in general support systems and major applications.

Retention and disposal: Master records for completed studies are maintained in agency until transferred to the National Archives. Source documents for computer data are disposed of when no longer needed in the study, as determined by the system manager, and as provided in the signed consent form, as appropriate. Disposal methods include erasing computer tapes, burning or shredding paper materials or transferring records to the Federal Records Center when no longer needed for evaluation and analysis. Electronic records are maintained according to the provisions of the Records Control Schedule for NIOSH Electronic Records, which is consistent with the records maintenance requirements for other forms of records. Copies of notifications to workers/private physicians of needed medical attention and/or medical treatment are destroyed when no longer needed for administrative purposes, but may be retained for as long as seventy years. Paper records are destroyed by paper recycling process when 20 years old, unless needed for further study.

System manager(s) and address: Administrative Officer, Division of Respiratory Disease Studies (DRDS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), 1095 Willowdale Road, Morgantown, WV 26505-2888.

Chief, Surveillance Branch, DRDS, NIOSH, 1095 Willowdale Road, Morgantown, WV 26505-2888.

Policy coordination is provided by: Director, Division of Respiratory Disease Studies, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1095 Willowdale Road, Morgantown, WV 26505-2888.

Notification procedure: An individual may learn if a record exists about himself or herself by contacting the system manager at the above address. Requesters in person must provide driver's license or other positive identification. Individuals who do not appear in person must either: (1) submit a notarized request to verify their identity; or (2) certify that they are the individuals they claim to be and that they understand that the knowing and willful request for or acquisition of a record pertaining to an individual under false pretenses is a criminal offense under the Privacy Act subject to a $5,000 fine.

An individual who requests notification of or access to medical records shall, at the time the request is made, designate in writing a responsible representative who is willing to review the record and inform the subject individual of its contents at the representative's discretion.

The following information must be provided when requesting notification: (1) full name; (2) the approximate date and place of the study or treatment, if known; and (3) nature of the questionnaire or study in which the requester participated.

Record access procedures: Same as notification procedures.  Requesters should also reasonably specify the record contents being sought. An accounting of disclosures that have been made of the record, if any, may be requested.

Contesting record procedures: Contact the official at the address specified under System Manager above, reasonably identify the record and specify the information being contested, the corrective action sought, and the reasons for requesting the correction, along with supporting information to show how the record is inaccurate, incomplete, untimely, or irrelevant.

Record source categories: Information is obtained from the individual, company personnel records, death certificates, and from industry and trade union records. Vital status information is obtained from Federal, State and local governments and other available sources.

Systems exempted from certain provisions of the act: None.

APPENDIX I - Potential Sources for Determination of Vital Status and/or Last Known Address:

Military records
Appropriate State Motor Vehicle Registration Departments
Appropriate State Driver’s License Departments
Appropriate State Government Divisions of:
Assistance Payments (Welfare), Social Services, Medical Services, Food Stamp Program, Child Support, Board of Corrections, Aging, Indian Affairs, Worker's Compensation, Disability Insurance
Veterans Administration files
Appropriate employee union or association records
Appropriate company pension or employment records
Company group insurance records
Appropriate State Vital Statistics Offices
Life insurance companies
Railroad Retirement Board
Area nursing homes
Area Indian Trading Posts
Mailing List Correction Cards (U.S. Postal Service)
Letters and telephone conversations with relatives
Letters and telephone conversations with former employees of the same establishment as cohort member
Appropriate local newspaper (obituaries)
Social Security Administration
Internal Revenue Service

[Federal Register: November 24, 1986 (Volume 51, Number 226)] [Notices] [Page 42478-42480] (PDF - 1 MB)


  • Page last updated: April 11, 2012
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