Government health researchers are seeking comments on the paperwork requirements of their proposed program to assess the health status and disease burden among approximately 147,000 U.S. Metal and Non-Metal (MNM) workers and contractors, including workers in the stone, sand, and gravel mining sector. Comments must be submitted by June 23.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), part of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, states that the health surveillance program is necessary “to provide much needed health data” on the workers, who investigators say are at risk from “recognized hazards,” including noise, heat, repetitive stress, sleep deprivation, fumes, diesel exhaust, silica and other mine dusts, and radon gas.
“Little is known about the health status of this population of workers, in part because no comprehensive health surveillance system exists for the MNM mining sector,” NIOSH said in an information collection request posted in the April 24 Federal Register (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR- 2015-04-24/pdf/2015-09524.pdf).
The Institute plans to ask both current and former MNM workers to complete a 25-page questionnaire, which will gather data on demographics, occupation, work status, working conditions and occupational exposures, work stress, musculoskeletal disorders, hearing, sleep and fatigue, chronic disease and chronic disease risk factors, and respiratory health. The purpose of the questionnaire is to determine the prevalence of certain health conditions and risk factors for disease, and to characterize miners’ working conditions and workplace exposures, NIOSH said. In addition, the program will include a visit to mine sites by a mobile health clinic. Health professionals will measure participants’ height, weight, and blood pressure, collect a fingerstick blood sample to measure cholesterol and hemoglobin levels, and administer a pulmonary function test and a chest radiograph. Data collection initially will focus on metal mines in the western states. Participation in the program is voluntary.
NIOSH said the information it proposes to gather will enable it to develop targeted workplace interventions and health programs directed toward what it describes as a high-risk population of workers. It also will allow mining researchers to prioritize research on occupational illnesses, and the mining industry to develop and promote policies to reduce unhealthy exposures and improve overall miner health, according to the Institute.
Researchers have made the information collection request under the Paperwork Reduction Act, which requires government agencies to estimate the burden the paperwork requirements of the study will impose on participants. Therefore, commenters are asked to focus on such matters as the total time, effort or financial resources participating individuals and companies expect to devote to providing the requested information and ways to minimize the burden. Remarks may also address whether the study is necessary at all and the accuracy of NIOSH’s estimate of the commitment the study will require. The Institute has projected that about 2,500 individuals will participate.
Commenters may post remarks at http://www.regulations.gov, identifying the information collection request by its docket number, CDC-2015-0024.