Appeals, Nos. 311, 312, 336, and 337, Oct. T., 1958, from judgments of Court of Common Pleas No. 3, June T., 1957, Nos. 5666 and 5667, in case of Mrs. Clara Belle Crandall, widow of George S. Crandall, v. Downington Iron Works et al. Judgments affirmed.
Paul H. Ferguson, with him J. F. Malone, for appellants.
Alan M. Spector, with him Gerber and Galfand, for appellee.
Before Rhodes, P.j., Hirt, Wright, Woodside, Ervin, and Watkins, JJ. (gunther, J., absent).
George S. Crandall filed a claim petition under The Pennsylvania Occupational Disease Act,*fn1 alleging total disability on October 16, 1952, as the result of silicosis. Crandall died on July 13, 1954, and his widow thereafter filed a claim petition alleging that her husband's death was the result of silicosis. The petitions were consolidated for hearing before the Referee, who found that Crandall's disability and subsequent death resulted from silicosis "contracted while in the course of his employment with the defendant after an exposure of more than 5 years to a silica hazard". The awards accordingly made by the Referee were affirmed by the Board and the court below, and appropriate judgments were entered. These appeals followed.
The question involved on this appeal, as stated by counsel for appellants, is as follows: "Is there any evidence in the record which would support a finding that George S. Crandall was exposed to a silica hazard for an aggregate of four years in the eight years next preceding the date of his disability?" This statement is premised on the language of Section 301(d) of the Act as worded and in effect at the time Crandall became totally disabled, and which then read as follows: "Compensation for silicosis ... shall be paid only when it is shown that the employe has had an aggregate employment of at least four years in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania during a period of eight years next preceding the date of disability in an occupation hava silica ... hazard".*fn2
The statute under consideration is to be liberally construed in favor of the employe: Roschak v. Vulcan Iron Works, 157 Pa. Superior Ct. 227, 42 A.2d 280. Our function is to determine whether or not there is substantial evidence to support the findings of the compensation authorities, giving to the claimant, who has the award, the benefit of the most favorable inferences reasonably deducible from the testimony: Masouskie v. Hammond Coal Co., 172 Pa. Superior Ct. 409, 94 A.2d 55.
"Section 301(d) does not require a claimant to show an aggregate of four 365-day years in order to qualify ... The Legislature ... provided the four year minimum period as the line below which disability would not be considered as having resulted from exposure. The provision, however, is a general one, lacking explicit instructions on its application to specific cases. Consequently it is necessary in each case to determine each claim on the basis of its particular facts, keeping constantly in mind the humane purpose of the Act and the mandate to construe and apply it liberally ... Individual cases, like individual disabilities, must be individually determined. The Legislature intended no strict and unreasonable, cold and arbitrary measure of providing compensation ... There can be no set mechanical formula laid down which must be applied with mathematical certainty in each and every case, striking down those which fall just below the line and compensating those who come just above it. Nor can we set forth any percentage formula applicable to all cases ... Such an arbitrary mechanical system would be unreasonable and unfair, in addition to bearing no relationship whatever to a determination of the cause and effect aspect of silicosis": Milavech v. Berwind-White Coal Co., 180 Pa. Superior Ct. 194, 119 A.2d 652.
In the case at bar, the hourly breakdown prepared by the employer discloses that Crandall was first employed as a helper on the testing floor, and that he worked in such capacity from the week ending January 14, 1945, to the week ending May 5, 1946. Thereafter he was regularly employed part of each working week as a sand blaster and part of each working week as a helper on the testing floor. The sand blasting was performed in a separate building used solely for that purpose, and it was during said portion of his employment that Crandall was exposed to a silica hazard. In the fall of 1951, Crandall was relieved of his sand blasting duties, apparently because he complained that the work interfered with his health. The hourly breakdown shows that he did his last continuous work as a sand blaster during the week ending September 23, 1951. He did not thereafter work in such capacity except for a brief period in the spring of 1952. The total duration of Crandall's employment was from the week ending January 14, 1945 to the week ending October 19, 1952, a ...