A work injury is a type of personal injury that occurs during a person’s employment. Typically, the injury, also called a workplace injury, is caused by a job task an individual is required to do while working. An employee injured on the job is guaranteed benefits regardless of who was at fault. In return for workers' compensation benefits, employees usually forfeit the right to sue their employer in court for damages for their injuries. The rules regarding workers' compensation are very different than for other personal injury matters.
Occupational hearing loss is hearing loss that occurs as a direct result of a specific type of employment. More than 20,000 cases of loss of hearing due to employment conditions are reported each year, and this number makes up almost 15% of reported occupational illnesses in any year. Of the 20,0000 people who work in manufacturing report reported cases in a given year, about 80% of them.
Occupational, or industrial, deafness is a type of hearing loss is caused equipment noise that far exceeds a specific decibel level. This extremely loud noise can cause permanent damage to the worker’s ears. The damage is sustained in the inner ear.
This particular workplace injury can happen in two ways. The first way that it can happen is working around loud equipment for a prolonged period of time. The prolonged exposure to the noises causes one to go deaf. The second way it occurs is called acoustic shock. Acoustic shock happens when an individual suddenly hears loud noise over a specific decibel level. The sudden loud noise causes immediate permanent hearing loss.
No. Although permanent deafness is a common result of occupational deafness, a worker can also experience:
Sounds higher than 80 decibels can be loud enough to cause damage to the inner ear. The longer the sound is, the more likely damages would be caused.
Workers in the following jobs have a high risk of developing this work-related injury:
Work-related hearing loss is a major employment concern. Personal safety and health is put in jeopardy when an employee suffers hearing impairment as a result of his performance on the job. Bringing your concerns to the attention of your co-workers, union, or employer may lead to hearing loss prevention programs in your workplace or improved work conditions. If the situation remains unchanged and problematic, you should consider talking with an attorney who is familiar with employment regulations and laws.
A new employee should have a hearing test administered by the company, prior to starting a job where constant exposure to noise is an essential part of the position. But if the employee can prove that the hearing loss occurred as a sole and direct result of the employment conditions, occupational hearing loss can be covered by worker’s compensation. But there is a lot a company can do to protect against these kinds of claims.
Before filing an occupational hearing loss claim, it is important to understand the difference between a worker’s compensation claim and a personal injury claim. A personal injury claim is based on neglect and will seek damages, while a worker’s compensation claim doesn’t have to assign fault to be successful.
You may be able to obtain workers compensation for this type of injury. Workers compensation is available to cover work-related injuries such as occupational deafness in exchange for employees giving up their right to sue in civil court.
A disability claim can be filed for years after leaving the company, so it is important that employers hold on to the audiogram records, or hearing test records, of all current and former employees, including those who have left the company.
Audiograms should be conducted yearly when employees are regularly exposed to potentially damaging sounds such as chainsaws, bulldozers, jackhammers, or lawnmowers. This can help the company chart the hearing loss, which may be helpful in defending against an occupational hearing loss claim.
In some cases, your hearing loss or damage may be covered by workers compensation. Depending on your employment situation, you may also be covered by certain health and safety laws. For example, certain workers are entitled to hearing protection under the following federal regulations:
Workers' compensation benefits typically include:
If you are suffering from occupational deafness, you need to talk to an employment lawyer. A lawyer will help you with pursuing a worker’s compensation claim to reimburse you for your work-related hearing injury.
Last Modified: 10-09-2017 03:52 PM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
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