Occupational hearing loss is one of the major problems among workers in Australia, especially for those who work in the manufacturing or construction industries. A worker’s hearing ability can become permanently impaired if the worker works with or near noisy machinery or equipment being exposed to continuous excessive noise.
A lot of workers who suffer symptoms of hearing loss are not even aware that they may be entitled to benefits and compensation under the workers compensation scheme in NSW if their hearing becomes impaired as a result of their work environments.
If you experience any of the following common symptoms of hearing impairment following years of work at a noisy workplace, your workplace may have had a noise problem and you may consider making a hearing loss claim:
- You have to raise your voice to speak to your co-workers.
- You have ringing in your ears at the end of a shift.
- You find that when you returned home from work you had to increase the volume on your car radio or TV higher than it was before you went to work.
- You have problems understanding conversations at restaurants or in crowds where there are many voices and “competing” noises.
What types of compensation can you claim?
1. Cost of hearing aids
Workers compensation legislation prescribes that you will be entitled to claim for all treatment expenses as long as they are considered ‘reasonably necessary’. A claim for the cost of hearing aids is a claim for medical expenses. To be eligible to make such a claim, you must have hearing loss which arises from your employment, such as hearing loss caused by exposure to loud noise at work.
If you are concerned about your hearing, you should first consult your general practitioner and obtain a referral to see an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist. The ENT specialist would then go through some assessments and tests with you to figure out if you have any hearing loss, if it is related to your work, and whether hearing aids are reasonably necessary.
Following assessments and tests, the ENT specialist may provide a hearing needs assessment report including audiogram. Should you have been assessed as having hearing loss as a result of your employment, please come and talk to us and we will assist you in claiming for a hearing aid if this is recommended.
2. Lump sum compensation
Should you be found to suffer from permanent hearing loss and this loss was as a result of your employment conditions, you may also be entitled to claim lump sum compensation. If you are no longer working in a noisy industry, the claim should be lodged with the employer who last employed you in a noisy workplace.
The thresholds to receive such compensation and the amount of compensation payable varies depending on the date you were last employed in noisy conditions in NSW.
For workers who stopped working in noisy environments before 1 January 2002, to be eligible for such a claim their hearing loss must be assessed at a minimum of 6% binaural hearing loss. The amount of compensation varies from $520 to $650 for every 1% binaural hearing loss.
For hearing loss with a deemed date of injury on or after 1 January 2002, the workers must be assessed as having 11% whole person impairment (WPI) or more as a result of industrial deafness in order to claim lump sum compensation. A binaural hearing loss of 20.5% equates to 11% WPI.
To make a claim for lump sum compensation based on permanent hearing loss, an ENT assessment must be conducted by a medico-legal assessor listed on the SIRA website. If you believe you have a viable claim, please consult with one of our lawyers and we will arrange for you to attend an ENT specialist.
The ENT specialist will assess your industrial hearing loss and complete a report with the assessed binaural hearing loss and forward it to us with a copy of audiogram. If you satisfy the thresholds to make a lump sum claim, we will then prepare and submit a claim for you.
How much are legal costs?
You will not be charged anything. We are IRO approved lawyers and our costs and expenses will be covered by the Independent Review Office (IRO) upon our accepted ILARS Grant of Funding Applications.