The tardy recognition of silicosis in 1945, as a development of the 1919 law on occupational hazards, was related to the job, the industrial area, and the length of exposure. The nationalized coal basins like other companies were able to relativize radiology and epidemiology data, attribute the illness to tuberculosis, and impute indemnification to health or other social insurances. Recourse to foreign immigration, temporary jobs, and repatriation minimized the observable morbidity and mortality. The role of some professors of medicine, the complicity of the Communist Party at Liberation, the passivity of the trade unions, the weakness of miners’ social security, statistical opacity and being in thrall to the paternalist system prevented silicosis from becoming a ‘cause’. Its history provides a matrix for asbestos and professional RSI or cancers today.
- occupational hazards
- social health insurance