Coal Workers Pneumoconiosis

Coal worker’s pneumoconiosis (CWP) also known as (black lung disease) is classified as an industrial disease that is the result of breathing in dust from coal, graphite or manmade carbon over a period of years. The dust is inhaled into the body and resides in the lungs where it progressively builds up over time if the individual is subject to prolonged exposure because the lungs are unable to excrete the dust from the lungs. This can lead to inflammation, fibrosis and in the worst cases, necrosis. The condition is associated with the mining (coal) industry and in the United States alone approximately $44 billion in benefits has been distributed by the government to the afflicted miners or their widows.

Two types of coal worker’s pneumoconiosis

There are two types of coal worker’s pneumoconiosis, simple coal worker’s pneumoconiosis and progressive massive fibrosis (PMF) sometimes known as complicated coal worker’s pneumoconiosis.

Simple coal worker’s pneumoconiosis

Simple pneumoconiosis is the disease in its early form and is characterised by the presence of nodular aggregations within the lungs that occur at the site at which the coal dust has aggregated. A chest x-ray will determine the extent and severity of the disease. This form of the disease is asymptomatic and a fairly mild form. Many urban dwellers will unwittingly be sufferers due to poor air quality issues in some large cities.

Progressive massive fibrosis

The simple form of the disease can develop into progressive massive fibrosis if prolonged exposure to the source of dust is continued over time. PMF sufferers will develop large masses of dense fibrosis in the lungs which will lead to a decrease in lung function. It has been known for people suffering from PMF to be more susceptible to autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma.

Coal worker’s pneumoconiosis symptoms

Simple coal worker’s pneumoconiosis

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chronic cough (with increased risk of chronic bronchitis)

Progressive massive fibrosis

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chronic cough
  • Black sputum
  • Lung dysfunction
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Heart problems

There is no specific treatment for either simple coal worker’s pneumoconiosis or complicated coal worker’s pneumoconiosis.

Coal workers pneumoconiosis injury compensation claims

In the UK, coal workers pneumoconiosis is a notifiable industrial disease. In other words when a doctors’ patient is diagnosed with suffering with the condition the doctor must notify the employer in writing (with the permission of the patient), and the employer must then inform the local Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Due to the fact that coal workers pneumoconiosis is a prescribed industrial disease, If an employee can prove that they worked in a job for which the disease is prescribed and that it can be proved that the onset of the disease is likely caused by the work environment then it is entirely possible that the worker could receive financial compensation.