William R. Miller, Ceisler, Richman & Smith, Washington, for petitioner.
Benjamin L. Costello, with him, Eric P. Betzner, Yablonski, Costello, Leckie & Chaban, Washington, for respondents, Joe Kuzior.
Crumlish, Jr., President Judge, Colins, J., and Narick, Senior Judge.
[ 127 Pa. Commw. Page 453]
Before us is an appeal by McGraw-Edison Power Systems (Employer) from a decision of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) affirming a referee's award of total disability benefits to Joseph Kuzior (Claimant) resulting from mixed dust pneumoconiosis and its sequelae he contracted during his various coal mine and steel mill employments in Pennsylvania.
Claimant was employed as a craneman at McGraw-Edison from March 16, 1970, to January 27, 1984, when he retired. Prior to 1970 he worked approximately twenty-nine years as a craneman in a steel mill, and approximately two years in various coal mines in the state.
During his tenure with Employer Claimant operated cranes in Buildings 47, 55 and 25. The cranes were of two types, essentially similar in design and operation, except for differences in height. The cab of one type was located approximately twenty-six feet above the floor, and the cab of the other was approximately forty-six feet high. The cabs were located along the walls of the building above areas where welding and torch-cutting operations took place.
Claimant was examined on September 22, 1984 by Dr. J.D. Silverman, who testified that at that time Claimant complained of a severe hacking cough, which he stated had somewhat improved since his retirement. Dr. Silverman took Claimant's medical history, occupational history, a
[ 127 Pa. Commw. Page 454]
chest X-ray, and performed pulmonary function studies. As a result of this physical examination, Dr. Silverman arrived at a diagnosis of mixed dust pneumoconiosis, caused by Claimant's total and cumulative exposures to the atmospheres of coal mines and steel mills, which left him totally and permanently disabled.
Claimant subsequently filed a claim petition for partial disability. The referee conducted hearings at which both parties presented expert testimony concerning Claimant's health and respiratory condition. Employer also produced expert testimony regarding the atmospheres in the buildings in which Claimant had worked. After evaluating all the evidence presented, the referee concluded that Claimant was totally and permanently disabled as a result of mixed dust pneumoconiosis arising in the course of his employment, and awarded total disability benefits for occupational disease as defined by Section 108(n) of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act (Act), Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, as amended, 77 P.S. § 27.1(n). On appeal by Employer, the Board affirmed, and this appeal followed.
Employer first asserts that Claimant's medical expert, Dr. Silverman, failed to present competent medical evidence for the purpose of establishing the requisite causal connection between Claimant's pneumoconiosis and his employment with the Employer. Employer further asserts that the record lacks substantial competent evidence to support the referee's finding that Claimant has mixed dust pneumoconiosis and that he is disabled. We realize that our scope of review is limited to a determination of whether constitutional rights have been violated, an error of law has been committed, or necessary findings of fact are supported by ...