February 19, 2020

NIOSH Proposes Changes to Coal Workers’ Health B Reader Program

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has posted a proposal for public comment to amend Coal Workers' Health Surveillance Program regulations by adding a provision allowing the Program to suspend or revoke B reader certification.

B readers are physicians who passed a specially designed proficiency exam to be recognized by NIOSH as qualified to classify chest radiographs identifying pneumoconiosis for the Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program.

The B Reader Program aims to ensure competency in radiographic reading by creating and maintaining a pool of qualified readers having the skills and ability to provide accurate and precise International Labor Organization classifications.

Under the proposed rule, NIOSH may revoke certification for any B reader found to have engaged in a pattern of providing unreasonably inaccurate chest radiograph classifications in practice, including those who are found to have diverged substantially from a competent interpretation of the radiographs as determined by a panel of at least four practicing, certified B readers selected by NIOSH.

Remedial actions could be taken at NIOSH's discretion or in response to a complaint from any interested party or at the discretion of the Coal Workers' Health Surveillance Program.

The deadline for submitting comments on the proposed rule is May 14. Members who wish to offer input for the American College of Radiology’s® (ACR’s®) comments are encouraged to contact Gloria Romanelli, ACR senior director of legislative and regulatory affairs at gromanelli@acr.org.