In Allegheny County and across western Pennsylvania, numerous men and women work in coal mines. In fact, the Pittsburgh area’s coal mining region has become somewhat of a tourist attraction in recent years. However, it hides a dark side that has come to light in past decades. Coal mining companies have negligently exposed employees to known toxins that can lead to black lung. As a result, Workers’ Compensation lawyers routinely work with victims of black lung and other coal mine-related health conditions. Their goal is to make coal mining enterprises pay for putting workers at risk.
The American Lung Association describes black lung as a condition that specifically affects coal miners. The condition is caused by long-term inhalation of damaging dust particles, such as those containing silica, that eventually destroy lung function. Symptoms of black lung include productive or unproductive coughing, trouble breathing, and a tight feeling in the chest. Doctors require numerous tests to officially diagnose black lung. The condition is irreversible and can lead to fatality in severe cases. Early diagnosis is helpful, although any lung damage can have lasting repercussions.
Black lung is still a problem even though it can be mitigated by having coal miners wear proper protective equipment and by rigorously testing the make-up of dust in coal mining sites. Although official government figures suggest that no more than 99 severe cases of black lung occurred in the years between 2011 and 2016, journalists suggest otherwise. Their investigations based on anecdotal evidence have led to the belief that the real number of black lung cases may have been 20 times higher in the same timeframe.
For this reason, it can be difficult to know exactly how many people are suffering from black lung in the Pennsylvania coal region. Regardless of the exact figure, plenty of black lung victims and their families are likely dealing with the disease.
One interviewee stated in a recent national article that he is suffering from a case of black lung that is affecting him rapidly. He worked for a dozen years mining coal underground, which indicates how quickly black lung can occur. Even workers who earned wages for short periods as coal miners may be diagnosed with milder forms of the condition.
Without a doubt, black lung a problem that must be faced head-on through advocacy and stronger safety measures. The Allegheny County Workers’ Compensation lawyers at AlpernSchubert P.C. help clients with black lung hold their employers accountable for their conditions and receive damages for their medical bills, lost wages, and suffering. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 412-765-1888 or contact us online. Located in Pittsburgh, we proudly serve clients throughout western Pennsylvania, including Allegheny County, Lawrence County, and Washington County.