October 2, 2022 - Federal regulators want to increase participation in a program that helps coal miners with black lung disease reduce their exposure to toxic dust.
Part 90 is a provision in federal mine safety law that encourages sick miners to request reassignment to jobs where they won’t be exposed to coal dust.
Milton "Mickey" Pettry, who has black lung, holds the 'black lung kills' emblem that is now on the Kanawha County Black Lung Association's t-shirts. At the time this photo was taken in March 2020, Pettry was fighting for his federal benefits.
Photo: Caitlin Tan, West Virginia Public Broadcasting
The dust generated by coal mining, especially when it contains silica, can cause severe black lung disease.
According to mine safety advocates, Part 90 is underutilized.
As part of its renewed focus on reducing coal dust exposure, the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration is trying to get higher participation in Part 90.
Some of that effort will focus on increased communication with coal producers and miners.
MSHA said it will also crack down on discrimination or retaliation that results from miners requesting participation in the program.