Workers’ Compensation and Occupational Hearing Loss

June 5, 2015

If you work in an industry or at a workplace where there is a lot of constant noise, it can result in gradual hearing loss over time if you do not use proper safety equipment to protect your hearing. If you believe that your hearing loss was caused by high noise levels in your workplace, then you may be able to bring a workers’ compensation claim based on your hearing loss.

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), each year approximately 30 million people in the United States are exposed to hazardous noise levels at work. Hearing loss has been one of the most prevalent occupational health concerns in the U.S. for decades. Since 2004, The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that nearly 125,000 workers have suffered significant, permanent hearing loss.

What are the causes of occupational hearing loss?

Exposure to high levels of noise can cause permanent hearing loss which cannot be corrected by hearing aids or surgery. Short term exposure to very loud sounds can damage your hearing, such as the sound from a loud explosion as well as sudden trauma such as a blow to the ear.

Filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits

In order to file a claim for workers compensation for what is called specific loss benefits for your hearing loss your attorney will need to use medical records to prove a direct, causal relationship between the noise in your workplace and your hearing loss.

The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act contains a schedule of “specific losses” that covers the benefits paid for a permanent loss of use of a limb or functions of the body. The law assigns a specific number of weeks for each loss. The worker is entitled to receive these benefits for the period of time listed in the law whether or not the individual is out of work.

You will likely have to take a hearing test called an audiogram, which tests an individual’s ability or inability to hear certain sounds. When this test is taken over time it can show any progression of hearing loss. The results of the audiogram and other medical records that your doctor can provide will also be helpful in proving how an injury occurred and measure the approximate degree of hearing loss.

Every workplace must abide by OSHA standards for noise levels, and what sort of protection should be provided for employees who work in an environment where there is a high level of noise. If your employer is violating these rules by not giving you the protective equipment, this might be valuable information to include in your workers’ compensation claim.

As soon as you believe that you might be suffering from hearing loss that is directly related to your workplace you should see your doctor and have your symptoms documented. You might also want to talk to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who can advise you of your rights and help you file a claim if that is what you decide to do.

If you have suffered work-related hearing loss we want to talk to you, contact the Philadelphia workers’ compensation attorneys at Larry Pitt & Associates. We proudly serve clients just like you from all over Pennsylvania, including in Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties.