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WASHINGTON STEEL CORPORATION v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (12/04/78)

decided: December 4, 1978.

WASHINGTON STEEL CORPORATION, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD AND WILLIAM COX, RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of William Cox v. Washington Steel Corporation and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, No. A-72933.

COUNSEL

Robert C. Little, with him Burns, Manley & Little, for petitioner.

Benjamin L. Costello, with him Kenneth J. Yablonski, for respondent.

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

Author: Wilkinson

[ 39 Pa. Commw. Page 21]

The Washington Steel Corporation (petitioner) appeals from an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) which affirmed the referee's decision awarding compensation to William Cox (claimant). We affirm.

[ 39 Pa. Commw. Page 22]

Claimant worked underground in various coal mines from 1927 to 1954. He then worked at Washington Steel Corporation from 1956 to June 13, 1974; the last 12 years there as a grinder.

Disregarding the rather tortured procedural history by which this case has been before a referee twice, the Board three times and this Court twice, the issue is whether there is sufficient competent evidence to support the referee's and the Board's conclusion that claimant contracted anthraco-silicosis which arose out of and in the course of his employment in the coal mining and steel making industries.

The referee's finding of fact number 7 states:

7. The claimant was exposed to coal dust in the mines and silica dust at Washington Steel Corporation in which anthraco-silicosis is a hazard and it is presumed that the claimant's occupational disease arose out of and in the course of his employment in these industries. This presumption was not rebutted by defendant.

Petitioner asserts that there was no proof of a silica hazard to claimant while he worked for petitioner and no proof that anthraco-silicosis is an occupational disease hazard in the steel industry. Therefore, petitioner argues, there can be no presumption that claimant became disabled because of an occupational disease which arose out of and in the course of his employment. We disagree.

At the hearing claimant presented uncontroverted testimony that for the final 12 years in petitioner's mill his job consisted of grinding stainless steel with a machine that used sand paper belts. When asked what the belts had written on the back side of them, he replied that some said "carborundum" and some said "silicon." ...


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