Even though Congress passed sweeping legislation to prevent coal miners from developing the dreaded black lung disease back in 1969, the numbers suggest that it never went away.
The regulations Congress set in place allowed mining companies to easily skirt the provisions meant to guard against black lung disease. The regulations required that mining managers submit samples to test for harmful agents in the mining facility’s dust. A study by NPR and the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) found that some mining managers found creative ways to hide how toxic their mines were. The study found 103 cases of fraudulent sampling between 1980 and 2002. Many mining officials were convicted and served time in prison.
Government-employed sample testers found that same managers were sending samples from their office carpets that matched the color of the dust found in the mines. Sometimes, managers made sure that miners only took samples from the cleanest parts of the mine, or made them hide the sample-taking devices inside lunch boxes or uniforms, away from the actual air. If the sample looked like it might violate the federally mandated limits, managers would shake the sample and make it unreadable, forcing them to discard the sample and delay the test.
Bob Glenn, formerly of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, said that government employees should have taken the samples themselves.
“They certainly would be more impartial, you would think, than having the operator take all the samples,” Glenn said.
Glenn is likely correct. As we have seen in frequent asbestos litigation and mesothelioma lawsuits, site managers will choose efficiency over safety, and the results are catastrophic. In our next blog, we will discuss how cheating the system wreaks havoc on human lungs.
If you contracted lung cancer or mesothelioma from unsafe working conditions, contact us today for a free consultation.
Cappolino Dodd Krebs LLP – mesothelioma lawyers