The two inked a formal memorandum of understanding on September 24 outlining the initiative, which will evaluate black lung benefit claims in a more efficient manner.

“In the past two years, the department has implemented several initiatives to improve the quality and timeliness of decisions on black lung claims,” said OWCP Director Leonard Howie III.

By formalizing this agreement with OWCP, together we will establish a new mechanism to help ensure that chest X-ray readings used in black lung benefits proceedings meet the highest standards,” Weissman said.

The interagency agreement will now provide a process to monitor and assess the quality of X-ray readings submitted to the DOL as part of the adjudication process, he said.

David Weissman, director of NIOSH’s Division of Respiratory Disease Studies, said the research group has a longstanding commitment to ensure professionalism, proficiency and objectivity among the physicians it certifies as “B readers” for X-ray processing in claims.

“By formalizing this agreement with OWCP, together we will establish a new mechanism to help ensure that chest X-ray readings used in black lung benefits proceedings meet the highest standards,” Weissman said.

The program is one of several initiatives the DOL has advanced following issues raised by a recent inspector general review of the black lung claim adjudication process.