The United Mine Workers of America and the recognition of occupational respiratory diseases, 1902-1968

A. Derickson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study examines the early efforts of the United Mine Workers of America to illuminate the problem of occupational respiratory diseases in the coal fields. The union used the hearings of the US Anthracite Coal Strike Commission of 1902-3 to draw public attention to ''miners' asthma''. In 1915, it began to agitate for the provision of workers' compensation benefits for victims of this disorder. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the union's Welfare and Retirement Fund disseminated information on advances in understanding chronic pulmonary diseases of mining. In particular, the miners' fund promoted the British conceptualization of a distinctive coal workers' pneumoconiosis. At the same time, the staff of the union health plan pressed the US Public Health Service and the Pennsylvania Department of Health to investigate the prevalence of occupational respiratory diseases among bituminous miners. Taken together, these endeavors contributed significantly to growing recognition of the severity and extent of this important public health problem and thus helped lay the foundation for the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)781-789
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Volume81
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 1991

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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