Labour History Review

Medical Monitoring and Silicosis in Metal Miners: 1910-1940

Labour History Review (2004), 69, (3), 285–303.

Abstract

During the first half of the twentieth century the world's experts in silicosis embraced the notion of health screening and strict medical surveillance of metal miners as a method of preventing the occupational lung disease silicosis. The promotion of medical monitoring represented a turning point in the profession's approach. Likewise, the formulation of the clinical stages of silicosis based on workers ‘productive capacity represented a defining moment, linking the medical definition of disability to its legal counterpart under workers’ compensation schemes in many countries. Yet, despite its continued support, medical monitoring was unable to realize its stated goal of eliminating silicosis from the mining fields. Nor was it able to protect healthy workers who had successfully passed rigorous pre-employment examinations from ultimately contracting this fatal disease.

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Penrose, Beris