The Scottish silicosis scheme

04/04/1919 – Kilsyth Chronicle – The Workmen’s Compensation (Silicosis) Act, 1918, created a new scheme of compensation for workmen engaged in what is called “The Refractories Industries” which means the processes carried on at mines, quarries, and factories, at which refractory material containing not less than 80 per cent, of silica is used. Illness, arising from working with this material is known as silicosis, which is a form of fibroid phthisis. It is not one of the industrial diseases scheduled under the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1906, in which a claim is made for an award of compensation in the Sheriff Court, and under this new scheme there will be no procedure in court at all. Claims are to be dealt with by a joint committee (unpaid), consisting of three employers and three workmen’s representatives with an independent chairman, all nominated by the Home Secretary. The scheme is to be operated by a district secretary appointed by this committee and approved by the Home Secretary. Scotland is a district under the scheme. The chairman is Sheriff T. A. Fyfe, of Glasgow. The employers’ representatives are Mr Thos. Black, of James Dougall and Sons (Ltd.)/ Bonnyside Works, Bonnybridge; Mr G. Dunsmuir, of Bonnybridge Silica and Fireclay Company (Ltd.), Bonnybridge; and Mr John G. Stein, of John G. Stein and Company (Ltd.), Castlecary. The workers’ representatives are Mr H. Gallacher, of the Lanarkshire Miners’ County Union; Mr W. Webb, Stirlingshire Miners’ County Union; and Mr J. McKenzie, National Union of General Workers. The secretary is Mr John Lyle, County Buildings, Glasgow, from whom all information may be obtained. Under the scheme, the Home Secretary may appoint a medical officer in any area, and it is understood that, with the concurrence of the local tuberculosis authorities concerned, the tuberculosis officers of these authorities are to act, ex officio, as medical officers under the scheme, for their respective areas. The scheme also provides for the appointment of medical referees to whom cases may be remitted. The Home Secretary has nominated as the Medical Advisory Committee for Scotland – Professor John Glaister, M.D, D.P.H., Glasgow University; Dr J. W. Allan, of Bellfield Sanatorium, Lanark and the Chief Tuberculosis Officer the City of Glasgow. An award of compensation made by the committee is to be final, and the compensation is to come out of a fund – administered by The Refractories Industries Compensation Fund, which is to be maintained by levy upon the employers engaged in the industries. The fund has been constituted and will be administered by the secretary, Mr G. Wink Wight, chartered accountant, of Glasgow and London. The scheme is a novel departure from existing practice, as regards compensation to workers and its development will be watched with much interest by employers and trade unions concerned with other industries.

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