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Part 90 for Coal Miners

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH) Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program, investigative reporting, and a growing body of health literature suggest that cases of pneumoconiosis are surging. Health experts have noted a troubling increase in coal miners’ development of more severe forms of pneumoconiosis (e.g., progressive massive fibrosis), including in younger and less experienced miners. 

Under Part 90, coal miners who have already developed a pneumoconiosis can exercise rights that allow them to continue working in healthier parts of the mine. Unfortunately, our data shows the Part 90 program is significantly underused.

Below is information on the Part 90 process and how you can exercise your rights.

Regulation: In accordance with 42 CFR 37, any miner who, in the judgment of NIOSH, has evidence of the development of pneumoconiosis, must be afforded the Part 90 option. NIOSH will, at its discretion, also accept other medical examinations provided to NIOSH for review, such as computed tomography (CT) scans of the chest or lung biopsies, as evidence of the development of pneumoconiosis.

Call to action: If you are interested in submitting other medical examinations, please contact NIOSH’s Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program at or 1-888-480-4042.

PART 90 Educational Information

Part 90 is aimed at protecting coal miners who have been diagnosed with the development of pneumoconiosis. A miner who qualifies and exercises Part 90 has the right to work in a low dust environment, without having their pay reduced. There are also protections against discrimination, including termination. Am I eligible?
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Approved Medical Examination Plan posted to your mine’s bulletin board will instruct you about where you can be examined, which is free of charge and confidential. NIOSH will receive the results and evaluate them. If the examination reveals the development of pneumoconiosis, you will be notified that you are eligible to exercise rights under Part 90 at any time. I am eligible and want to exercise my right, what happens now?
When you receive medical results and an exercise of option form fill it out and mail it in the prepaid and preaddressed envelope. Fill in the information about the mine that you are working at, sign and date the form and mail it. A miner who is eligible may also exercise by sending a written request to: Chief, Division of Health, Coal Mine Safety and Health, 201 12th Street South - Suite 400, Arlington, VA 22202-5452. What happens after submitting the exercise of option form, Part 90?
After MSHA receives an exercise of option form from the miner, the mine operator will then be notified. The operator has a 20 calendar-day grace period to determine and evaluate a low dust environment for the miner exercising Part 90 to work in. The operator must provide MSHA information about the miner’s work assignment at the mine. What is the transfer process?
After the 20-day grace period, the mine operator shall notify the District Manager of the transfer of the miner. The Part 90 miner will be transferred to an existing position at the same mine during the same shift. The miner may also be transferred to a new mine or a newly created position, or a position on a different shift or shift rotation only if the miner agrees in writing to a transfer of this
nature.  Will there be a change in my pay?
A Part 90 miner is compensated at not less than the regular rate of pay received by that miner immediately before exercising the option, regardless of any transfer. A Part 90 miner must receive any future wage increases applicable to the position. What does quarterly sampling entail?
The operator must collect five valid representative samples for the Part 90 miner while they are performing normal work duties during the 15 calendar days after the 20-day grace period to ensure the Part 90 miner remains in compliance with the lower dust standard. Non-compliance will result in enforcement action and required corrective measures. What If I change my mind and don’t want to be transferred?
A Part 90 miner may waive their Part 90 rights by giving written notification to the Chief, Division of Health, Coal Mine Safety and Health. There is no limit on the number of times a Part 90 miner may waive their rights. Once these rights are waived, the miner may re-exercise the option at any time, as long as they are employed at any coal mine.

Title 30 Code of Federal Regulations Part 90
Access the printable PDF version of the Part 90 Flow Chart here
Acceda a la versión imprimible en PDF del organigrama de la Parte 90 en español aquí