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PENNTUBE PLASTICS COMPANY AND MICHIGAN MUTUAL INSURANCE CO. v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (10/12/78)

decided: October 12, 1978.

PENNTUBE PLASTICS COMPANY AND MICHIGAN MUTUAL INSURANCE CO., PETITIONERS
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD AND VIRGINIA DUNLAP, RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Virginia Dunlap v. Penntube Plastics Company, No. A-72595.

COUNSEL

Roger B. Wood, with him David L. Pennington, and Harvey, Pennington, Herting & Renneisen, Ltd., for petitioners.

Michael A. Paul, with him Richard, Brian, DiSanti & Hamilton, and James N. Diefenderfer, for respondents.

Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Rogers and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Wilkinson, Jr.

Author: Wilkinson

[ 38 Pa. Commw. Page 106]

The employer and its insurance carrier (petitioners) appeal an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) affirming a decision of the referee in favor of respondent (claimant) pursuant to Section 108(i) of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act (Workmen's Compensation Act), Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, as amended, added by Section 1 of the Act of October 17, 1972, P.L. 930, as amended, 77 P.S. § 27.1(i). We affirm.

Claimant had been employed by the petitioner, Penntube Plastics Company, for a period of eight years as an inspector of plastic tubing which petitioner manufactures. It is undisputed that claimant suffered contact dermatitis of the hands due to their

[ 38 Pa. Commw. Page 107]

    exposure to polyethylene, a chemical used in the manufacture of this tubing. She developed a rash and skin eruption on her hands after working with a specific type of tubing after about two months on the job. After she requested a transfer due to the condition of her hands, claimant was sent by her employer in 1971 to a dermatologist who determined that she had an allergic reaction to polyethylene and advised both the claimant and her employer that she should avoid further contact with polyethylene. Claimant was transferred to another department away from the manufacturing process but continued to inspect the plastic tubing and to suffer from dermatitis. Claimant left the petitioner's employment as of March 1, 1974 due to this skin condition.

On August 19, 1974, claimant filed a petition for occupational disease benefits under The Pennsylvania Occupational Disease Act, Act of June 21, 1939, P.L. 566, as amended, added by Section 1 of the Act of December 10, 1959, P.L. 1746, as amended, 77 P.S. § 1208(i). On July 23, 1975, a second claim petition was filed by claimant under the Workmen's Compensation Act. Hearings were held May 8, 1975, July 9, 1975 and May 4, 1976.

At the hearings, claimant testified that from 1966 to 1971 she was treated by her family physician for the skin eruptions on her hands, but that she first learned that she was allergic to polyethylene when she was referred to a dermatologist by her employer in 1971. Claimant testified she sometimes wore gloves at work which alleviated her condition somewhat, but that she was unable to properly inspect the tubing while wearing gloves. Claimant's dermatologist testified that the allergic reaction to polyethylene developed during contact with the raw material of the plastics manufacturing process and that the dermatitis was due to contact with polyethylene. He further

[ 38 Pa. Commw. Page 108]

    stated that as a result of prolonged contact with this substance permanent damage was caused to the sweat glands in claimant's hands. The petitioner's medical expert testified claimant's dermatitis was caused by an ...


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