Pneumoconiosis and byssinosis are industrial lung diseases caused by the inhalation of certain dusts and which may take many years to develop. The Workmen's Compensation Acts provided compensation only for particular kinds of cases, bound by time limitations, and the purpose of the Pneumoconiosis and Byssinosis Benefit Scheme 1952 and its amendment in 1954 was to extend the cover.
The Pneumoconiosis and Byssinosis Benefit Board was established to administer the scheme introduced by the Pneumoconiosis and Byssinosis Act 1951. Initially covering people totally disabled by, and the dependents of people dying from, the diseases, in 1954 it was extended to cover those partially disabled only.
In 1954 the Industrial Diseases (Miscellaneous) Benefit Scheme was introduced, designed similarly to extend cover for other slowly-developing malignant diseases of industrial origin, also scheduled under the Workmen's Compensation Acts.
The board also administered the Industrial Diseases (Miscellaneous) Benefit Scheme, which provided for people suffering from some occupational skin cancers or from excessive exposure to radioactivity.
The board made its decisions on claims on the advice of specialist medical practitioners forming medical panels or boards.
In 1966 the two schemes were replaced, with little effective change, by the combined Pneumoconiosis, Byssinosis and Miscellaneous Diseases Benefit Scheme.
The board was successively part of the Ministries of National Insurance, Pensions and National Insurance, and Social Security, and of the Department of Health and Social Security.
The administrative boards established under the schemes were terminated under the Social Security Act 1975. Since 1977 all questions arising over claims and benefits have been decided by an Adjudication Officer appointed under the Act, with provision for appeal.