State Representative Jack Cira, from South East Ohio recently introduced plans to modernizing the safety net for coal miners with black lung.
On Monday, Cira introduced a bill that mirrors a similar bill in West Virginia and was devised with the help of The United Mine Workers of America. It will expand the benefits available to miners with black lung and modernize the process for obtaining those benefits. Cira says Ohio is behind the curve when it comes to fairly compensating miners affected by the disease.
"In Ohio you pretty much have to die before your spouse or your beneficiary who's still alive to get benefits."
Cira says miners who are temporarily and permanently affected by black lung would be able to receive economic assistance and benefits. For workers experiencing respiratory complications, the bill creates the presumption that their condition is the result of working in the mines for over 10 years. According to the Bureau of labor statistics there are over 4,000 coal miners in Ohio. The United Mine Workers of America say 1,500 former US coal miners die each year from black Lung