Enhanced Coal Workers' Health Surveillance Program

October 2018
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 2019-112
4 coal miners

“The first priority and concern of all in the coal or mining industry must be the health and safety of our most precious resource, the miner.”

~Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969, amended 1977

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health(NIOSH), Enhanced Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program (ECWHSP) studies the causes and effects of respiratory diseases related to coal mine dust exposure and provides vital health information to coal miners through health screenings and surveillance.

Coal Mine Dust Lung Disease

Exposure to dust in coal mines can cause several lung diseases. These include black lung, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchitis, and emphysema.

Program Background

The NIOSH ECWHSP is an extension of the Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program, which was established by the Federal Coal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1969 to provide early detection of coal workers’ pneunoconiosis, also known as black lung, and to prevent progression to severe lung disease. The program offers easy access for coal miners to health screenings and allows researchers to identify trends in disease progression across the nation.

Mobile Testing Units

coal miner being tested

NIOSH state-of-the-art mobile testing units travel to convenient community and mine locations to provide health screenings to all coal miners (past and present).

Screenings include:

  • Work history questionnaire
  • Chest radiograph
  • Respiratory assessment questionnaire
  • Lung function testing (spirometry)
  • Blood pressure screening

Screenings usually take about 30 minutes. NIOSH directly provides each miner with their screening results. By law, each person’s results are confidential. No individual information is publicly disclosed.

Participation in this program gives coal miners:

  • An easy way of checking their health status
  • A confidential report about their lung function
  • A confidential report on whether or not they have radiographic evidence of black lung

ECWHSP Factsheet Cdc-pdf[PDF – 864 KB]

Suggested Citation

NIOSH [2018]. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Enhanced Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program. By Wolfe A, Halldin C, Martin M. Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2019-112, https://doi.org/10.26616/NIOSHPUB2019112External

Page last reviewed: November 19, 2018