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White House announces review of coal dust regulation

Georgia residents may be interested to learn that President Trump is considering relaxing regulations that were written to protect miners from coal dust and black lung disease. The Respirable Coal Mine Dust Rule, which was introduced during the Obama administration, requires mine operators to sample air quality more frequently so that miners have more accurate information about coal dust levels. A Dec. 14 statement from the White House indicates that the rule is being reviewed to find out if it can be made less burdensome.

Black lung disease is a debilitating condition that claimed the lives of more than 76,000 miners between 1968 and 2014, and many of the miners who died after contracting the disease did not even begin their careers until after the passage of the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act in 1969. Enforcing workplace safety regulations in the mining industry is the responsibility of the Mine Safety and Health Administration, which is part of the Department of Labor.

While labor advocacy groups did not immediately respond to reports that the coal dust rule was being reviewed, the mining trade group known as the National Mining Association welcomed the news. The trade group said in a statement that the review could uncover ways to improve the rule and better protect miners. A spokesperson for a leading energy company went further by saying that the current coal dust rule does nothing to protect miners.

Workers who develop serious medical conditions after being exposed to toxic substances in the workplace often face significant obstacles when they pursue workers' compensation benefits. Attorneys with experience in this area may understand that employers in these situations often fear a flood of similar claims. The lawyers may be able to gather evidence to refute arguments asserting that the condition was contracted outside the workplace.

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