Objective: To estimate the prevalence and costs of respiratory illness for workers in coal mining, compared with other US industries. Methods: Using 5 years of insurance claims data for an annual average of 96,240 adult males, we model the probability and costs of respiratory illness as a function of workers' industry and other factors. Results: Controlling for nonindustry factors, workers in coal mining had significantly higher rates of respiratory illness claims (by 2.1% to 3.3% points) compared with other mining, agriculture, construction, and manufacturing. For coal mining workers with respiratory illness, annual medical care costs for these claims were also significantly higher (by $111 to $289). Surprisingly, drug costs were mostly lower (by $17 to $268). Conclusions: Our findings underscore the continued importance and potential cost effectiveness of measures to protect miners from harmful occupational exposures, particularly to coal dust.
Coal-miners; Coal-mining; Coal-dust; Coal-processing; Coal-workers; Respirable-dust; Respiratory-system-disorders; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Dust-exposure; Dust-inhalation; Dust-particles; Underground-mining; Underground-miners; Mining-industry; Miners; Mineral-processing; Epidemiology; Exposure-assessment; Morbidity-rates; Particulate-dust; Lung-disorders; Lung-disease