Occupational Hearing Loss
When most people think about workplace injuries they may picture a slip and fall accident or a repetitive stress injury, such as carpal tunnel system. However, the reality is that one of the most common workplace injuries is actually hearing loss, as thousands of workers sustain serious hearing loss every year as a result of exposure to dangerous levels of noise in the workplace. Fortunately, these individuals are eligible to file workers’ compensation claims, which if approved, will allow them to collect reimbursement for medical bills, as well as wage replacement, so if you suffer from job-related hearing loss and have questions about collecting compensation from your employer, it is important to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer who can address your concerns.
The Prevalence of Work-Related Hearing Loss
Hearing loss caused by workplace noise is much more common than most people realize. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that around 22 million people are exposed to hazardous noise levels in the workplace every year and marks hearing loss as one of the most prevalent occupational health concerns in the country. Unfortunately, many people do not associate their hearing loss with their workplace surroundings and instead chalk it up to age. As a result, thousands of people miss out on the opportunity to collect benefits through the state’s workers’ compensation program.
Although employees across a wide range of industries are at risk of suffering from hearing loss, certain types of workers are more prone to injury than others. This is because hearing loss injuries usually result from one of a few specific situations, including:
- Prolonged exposure to loud noises;
- Injuries to the head; or
- Exposure to a sudden and extremely loud noise.
Prolonged exposure to loud noises is especially common in the construction industry, where employees are often required to work around loud machinery for many hours a day. If preventive measures are not taken, this can quickly lead to hearing loss problems down the road. Other employees who are more likely to suffer from hearing loss include:
- Repair workers;
- Machine operators;
- Service personnel, such as firefighters and police officers;
- Airport employees;
- Employees who work in the manufacturing industry;
- Those who work in the mining industry;
- Farmers and agricultural workers; and
- Members of the military.
OSHA requires employers to take steps to protect employees in these industries from hazardous noise levels, such as providing annual hearing tests, offering hearing protection, and monitoring noise levels. Unfortunately, despite these efforts, hearing loss still can and does occur at an alarming rate.
Workers’ Compensation Claims
Fortunately, just because an employer complies with OSHA’s guidelines, does not mean that he or she does not have to provide benefits to an employee who has suffered hearing loss. As long as an employee can demonstrate that hearing loss has occurred and that exposure to noise in the workplace contributed to hearing damage, he or she will be eligible for benefits. In fact, even if an employee no longer works at the place of employment where the hearing loss occurred, he or she can still collect benefits. The only requirement is that the employee file a claim within two years of the date that he or she was made aware of the hearing loss.
Call Today for a Free Consultation
If you suffered hearing loss on the job, please contact Lafferty, Gallagher & Scott, LLC at 419-241-5500 to discuss your case with a dedicated workers’ compensation attorney.