Appeals from the Orders of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Herbert K. Helverson v. Central Foundry Co., No. A-81294.
Samuel A. Litzenberger, for petitioner.
Charles W. Craven, with him Jo Fineman White, Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman & Goggin, for respondent, Central Foundry Company.
Judges Rogers, Craig and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.
[ 76 Pa. Commw. Page 287]
Herbert K. Helverson (claimant) has filed a petition for review of the actions of the workmen's compensation authorities denying him an award for alleged work-related disability. The claimant initially averred in his claim petition that he was permanently and totally disabled from silicosis as a result of exposure to airborne silica and other substances during the course of his twenty-five years of employment with the Central Foundry of Quakertown, Pennsylvania. The petition was amended at the first evidentiary
[ 76 Pa. Commw. Page 288]
hearing to include a claim for compensation on account of disability caused by all occupational diseases within the provision of Section 108(n) of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act, Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, added by the Act of October 17, 1972, P.L. 930, as amended, 77 P.S. § 27.1. Section 108(n) provides compensation for disability for all diseases causally related to the claimant's occupation and to which the claimant was exposed by his occupation if the incidence of the claimant's disease "is substantially greater in that industry or occupation than in the given population."
The claimant states three questions for our consideration, but all three address the same point -- that the referee incorrectly assessed the record evidence and for this reason mistakenly held that the claimant had not met his burden to show that he was disabled by an occupational disease.
The evidence adduced during three hearings between February and September, 1980, is that the duties of the claimant's employment with Central Foundry including, most recently, twelve years as a cupola*fn1 mechanic, brought him into daily contact with airborne particulates including silica dust; that the claimant suffered an acute episode of dyspnea on April 10, 1979, and was thereafter hospitalized for about one week for a condition specified on the discharge summary as "acute bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease"; and that the claimant is now totally disabled as a result of chronic lung disease. The disputed issue of fact concerns the nature and cause of the claimant's lung disease.
On this issue, the testimony of two physicians was adduced. The claimant's treating physician, Dr. Murray
[ 76 Pa. Commw. Page 289]
J. Miller, testified as to the treatment received and diagnostic tests performed with respect to the claimant during his hospitalization in April, 1979, and that, in the doctor's opinion the claimant is totally disabled by "bronchitis superimposed on a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which in my professional opinion, was created because of his long environmental work history." Dr. Miller further testified on the basis of the claimant's account of his occupation and the airborne pollutants to which he was there exposed that, in the doctor's opinion, the claimant's chronic obstructive lung disease was "secondary to silicosis" and that the diseases from which the claimant suffered are "peculiar to the type of industry or occupation in which Mr. Helverson was engaged." Dr. Miller did not further elaborate on this last point. Finally, the physician testified that the diagnostic examinations he performed also indicated the ...