Occupational Hearing Loss and Workers’ Compensation
“The office was so loud today,” you complain to a partner or friend after a long day at work. You’re probably referring to a crying baby in the lobby, an incessantly ringing phone, a squeaky copy machine, or even a very chatty coworker. These things are irritating and distracting, but ultimately, they’re not going to have an effect on your health or well-being. However, for people in specific job sectors, a noisy workplace isn’t just annoying— it can lead to permanent hearing loss.
How Does Hearing Loss Occur?
Hearing loss occurs when the inner ear is damaged. The inner ear contains the cochlea, a snail-shaped structure covered in thousands of tiny hairs. When noise vibrations reach the inner ear, the cochlea translates them into electrical signals. Then they are transmitted to the brain. When the inner ear is damaged, this process does not occur properly. Inner ear damage can occur through aging or injury, though a common cause is noise exposure.
When hearing loss results from noise exposure, it is called occupational hearing loss. Any noise that measures between 80 and 180 decibels (dbs) can cause damage. A sudden, loud noise might cause immediate damage, while consistent noise, even at a lower decibel, might cause hearing loss over time.
Hearing loss is commonly associated with industries that involve loud machinery, including
- Emergency response
However, plenty of other jobs, from teaching to dentistry, can result in hearing loss.
Hearing Loss and Workers’ Compensation
When people experience hearing loss or become totally deaf as a result of their employment, they may qualify for workers’ compensation. However, the matter is complicated by factors like aging. If an employee is older, their company could potentially argue that it is a natural effect of aging, and therefore not the company’s fault. If the injured employee partakes in potentially loud activities outside of work, like hunting, the company may also claim that that activity, not their employment, caused the hearing loss. In other cases, only severe cases qualify an employee for workers’ compensation. In general, much depends on the employee and their circumstances.
If you have experienced hearing loss as a result of your job, it’s important to take immediate steps, even if you don’t think your case is severe enough to warrant workers’ compensation benefits. Tell your employee about the injury or if necessary, arrange a consultation with a workers’ compensation attorney.
The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.