Work related hearing loss may result from a specific event, such as an explosion, or from gradual onset, which is known as industrial deafness.
If your hearing becomes permanently impaired because of your work environment, you may be entitled to hearing aids or financial compensation.
A hearing assessment will determine whether you are suffering a hearing impairment. You will need to be seen by an Ear Nose & Throat (ENT) specialist who is a trained assessor of permanent hearing impairment. The ENT specialist will assess, diagnose and recommend treatment for your hearing loss. They will also provide a report for your employer’s insurer which will state the proportion of hearing loss attributable to your work environment. The specialist must adhere to guidelines set out by the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA).
You will need to demonstrate to your employer’s insurer that your hearing loss occurred as the result of your noisy work environment by providing evidence that you worked there. This can be by way of tax assessments, group certificates, pay slips or any other documentation that proves you were employed in that noisy work environment.
If you were wondering how the date of injury is determined when the hearing loss is gradual, it is deemed as the last day you were employed in the noisy work environment. The insurer for the employer on that day is responsible for managing and paying your compensation.
To be entitled to hearing aids or lump sum compensation, your hearing loss must be over predetermined statutory thresholds. If your hearing loss is over 6% you will be entitled to hearing aids every five years for life. Depending on the year your hearing loss occurred and/or the industry you worked in, the thresholds for lump sum compensation are 6% or 20.5%.
Where the percentage of hearing loss is in question, the insurer will dispute your entitlements and may send you to one of their nominated medical experts. If the insurer’s nominated medical expert deems your hearing loss to be below the required statutory threshold for hearing aids or lump sum compensation, you have the option to lodge an application to have your matter decided independently by the Workers Compensation Commission.
Many people are not aware of their entitlements under the workers compensation scheme. A legal representative will be able to assess your entitlements and act on your behalf. The funding for legal representation is paid for under the Independent Legal Assistance Review Scheme (ILARS) and you will not incur any out of pocket costs.
If you believe that you are suffering from work-related hearing loss, we would be pleased to speak with you in an obligation-free consultation to advise you about your options. You can click here to book an appointment or call us on (02) 4050 0330 for a no obligation consultation to discuss your potential work-related hearing loss claim.