Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Sam N. Young v. Bethlehem Mines Corporation, No. A-69654.
Robert G. Rose, with him Spence, Custer, Saylor, Wolfe & Rose, for appellant.
Robert S. Glass, with him Glass and Glass, and James N. Diefenderfer, for appellees.
Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Rogers and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt.
[ 23 Pa. Commw. Page 455]
Bethlehem Steel Corporation (employer) appeals from an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) affirming a referee's decision to grant benefits to Sam N. Young (claimant). We likewise affirm.
The claimant was employed as a door machine operator, a job which required him to operate a machine which removed the doors on the batteries of the coke ovens at his employer's plant and which also required him to clean those doors by using a hammer and bar. On the morning of March 17, 1973, while in the course of his employment, the claimant began to experience pain in his right hip which caused him to limp. At the end of that shift he took a shower and, while doing so, noticed a lump on his right side. Upon notifying his foreman and a nurse and a doctor at the employer's dispensary, he was advised to consult his family doctor and to have his condition treated before returning to work. He later saw Dr. William T. Corey, who diagnosed his condition as a right inguinal hernia and who had him admitted to a hospital on March 24 for surgery. The surgery was performed and the claimant returned to work on May 28, 1973.
Both parties have correctly recognized that the question of whether or not the claimant has suffered a compensable injury under The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act*fn1 (Act) must be considered in light of the very significant substantive amendments to Subsection 301(c) of the Act, 77 P.S. § 411, which became effective on May 1, 1972 and which apply in this case because the claimant's alleged injury here arose subsequent to that effective date. By virtue of these amendments the
[ 23 Pa. Commw. Page 456]
legislature has seen fit to eliminate the necessity that an injury occur by "accident" in order for it to be compensable, so that injuries sustained by employees after May 1, 1972 are compensable if (1) they arise in the course of employment and (2) are related thereto. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board v. Auto Express, Inc., 21 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 559, 346 A.2d 829 (1975); Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board v. Jeddo Highland Coal Co., 19 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 90, 338 A.2d 744 (1975).
The employer argues that, even under the new amendments, the claimant must attribute his injury to a definable incident. With this we cannot agree. So long as the claimant's injury arises in the course of employment and is related thereto, he need not pinpoint a specific event which precipitated his injury. An injury which develops over a course of time and results from a number of work activities in which the employee engages is compensable so long as the two conditions are satisfied.*fn2
There can be no doubt that the claimant's injury here arose in the course of employment. The employer argues vigorously, however, that the claimant has failed to satisfy his burden of proving a causal connection between the injury and his job. It is well established that, where there is no obvious causal relationship between the employee's injury and the alleged accident, unequivocal medical testimony is necessary to establish such causal connection. Czankner v. Sky Top Lodge, Inc., 13 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 220, 308 A.2d 911 (1973). And, in cases where the injury is not attributable to a specific incident, the causal ...