Sen. Brown Applauds Administration's New Rules to Prevent Black Lung Disease

WASHINGTON, D.C.Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) applauded the Administration for implementing a rule that would protect the health of Ohio’s coal miners. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced that starting tomorrow, it is lowering the amount of coal dust that miners are allowed to be exposed to. Last month, Brown urged DOL to do everything in its power to defend these regulations from legal action after the agency published its report, “Lowering Miners’ Exposure to Respirable Coal Mine Dust, Including Continuous Personal Dust Monitors.”

“Ohio’s coalminers work hard every day, but they shouldn’t have to risk their lives just to provide for their families,” Brown said. “I applaud the Labor Department’s decision to revise its coal dust regulations. This will help keep our coalminers healthier and prevent the scourge of black lung disease which has disabled and killed far too many.”

Specifically, DOL’s revisions would lower existing exposure limits to respirable coal mine dust from 2.0 milligrams per cubic meter to 1.5; ensure workers continuously calibrate dust samples in exposed air for a full shift; and increase dust sample requirements from 50 percent to 80 percent. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, since 1968, more than 76,000 miners have died as a result of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, emphysema, and progressive massive fibrosis (collectively known as Black Lung Disease).

Brown continues to fight for the wellbeing of Ohio’s coalminers. Last month, Brown urged DOL Secretary Thomas Perez to defend these rules from legal action by coalmine operators. And in March 2013, Brown introduced the Coalfield Accountability and Retired Employee Act, legislation that would protect the promised lifetime pension and health care benefits of hundreds of retired Ohio coalminers whose livelihoods, and those of their families, are in jeopardy.

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