Taking Action With Black Lung Disease

Posted on: 16 December 2022

Most people know that coal mining is a difficult, dirty, and dangerous job. Workers in the coal industry can fall victim to an insidious lung disorder because of the coal dust. To find out what has been done to ensure that coal miners affected with black lung disease can be compensated, read on.

Understanding the Job and the Disease

Black lung disease is caused by coal dust. When you work and live in a mining town, black coal dust is everywhere. You cannot avoid it. However, when workers must go deep into the mines, they have little choice but to breathe in the microscopic particles of coal dust that their protective gear may not catch.

At first, coal dust inhalation doesn't appear to cause any problems. You might notice that you are coughing more and perhaps bringing up some dark mucus, however. As the coal dust is inhaled, it mostly lodges in your lungs rather than being expelled. As time goes on, the body attempts to protect itself from the dust particles by forming scar tissue around the particles. Over the years, the scar tissue slowly overcomes ordinary lung tissue. That lung tissue is necessary for the taking in of oxygen and the release of carbon dioxide. When that process is interrupted, the worker may struggle to breathe in or exhale.

What Can be Done?

It's sad to say, but very little can be done to help those afflicted with black lung disease. This is a progressive illness that will worsen until the worker passes away from lung disease. Medications to ease the worker's breathing can help for a time, however, and medical science is working on life-preserving treatments.

Black lung disease can occur years and years after exposure, and this is not a new issue. A historical class action lawsuit several years ago by other victims of the coal industry resulted in a settlement that is meant to help sufferers and their families. The Black Lungs Benefit Act was set up to ensure that victims are paid compensation even if their employer goes out of business. Follow these steps if you or a loved one is suffering from breathing problems:

  • Get medical help for your breathing problems. You must be in the care of a doctor to qualify for compensation.
  • You should not have to pay for your medical care as this is a workers' compensation issue and your care is covered.
  • You probably also qualify for Social Security disability benefits so apply without delay.

Speak to a workers compensation lawyer if you are having trouble being paid the compensation you are owed from the fund.