Noise exposure at the workplace is a common phenomenon. It is one of the most widely encountered occupational hazards. The extent of damage to your ears depends on its intensity, duration, and frequency of noise exposure. The louder the noise at your place of work, the more dangerous it is likely to be. However, even if the noise intensity isn’t very high, its continuous exposure can cause problems with your hearing depending on how long you are exposed.
According to OSHA, you should not be continuously exposed to noise of more than 90 decibels for more than eight hours a day. If your job requires frequent use of tools that produce more than 100 decibels, you are at risk of permanent hearing damage. Due to the damaging effects of loud noises on hearing, workers’ compensation is designed to help protect employees who develop this condition due to their job.
Hearing Loss Workers’ Compensation in PA
Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law holds that hearing loss of 10% or more in both ears is compensable. The Workers’ Compensation Act provides that insured/covered employees are entitled to benefits for hearing loss caused during the course of their employment.
In Pennsylvania, if you are rendered unemployable because of your hearing loss caused by an injury at work, you can qualify to receive 66.66% of your wages for 260 weeks for every 10% of hearing loss. This means that if you have a 20 percent loss of hearing, you can recover up to 520 weeks of compensation.
If a worker has a hearing loss that already existed before the injury, additional loss from a work injury would have to equal at least 10% before they could be eligible for workers’ compensation. For example, if you started working with a pre-existing 20% hearing loss, then your work injury must cause at least 10 percent of additional hearing loss, which means 30% aggregate loss of hearing, for you to be eligible.
Hearing Loss Must be a Result of a Work Injury
In Pennsylvania, all workers’ compensation claims are decided by a workers’ compensation Judge. In these hearings, each party presents their evidence and arguments to the Judge. To win your claim, you must prove that your hearing loss is work-related and that you have the percentage of hearing loss required by the PA Workers’ Compensation Act.
If excessive noise is a constant feature of the workplace, employers often require their employees to take an Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) hearing test before commencing employment. The test identifies if a worker has pre-existing hearing loss.
However, if conditions at the workplace exacerbate a pre-existing hearing injury or condition, you can still claim workers’ compensation. A qualified workers’ compensation attorney can review your claim and help you collect the benefits you deserve.
Seek Legal Counsel from an Experienced Workers’ Comp Lawyer in PA
Noise-induced hearing loss can pose several challenges to a worker’s personal and professional life and should not be taken lightly. If you have suffered because you have lost hearing while working for an employer, Robinson Law can help you get the compensation you rightfully deserve. Call us today for a free consultation and case review.