If you suffer hearing loss on the job, you will need to take steps to find out if your condition qualifies for worker’s compensation benefits. The steps that determine if your hearing loss is work-related involve your doctor asking a series of questions concerning who is responsible for the injury.
Here are the steps that will help to decide whether hearing loss is work-related:
A physician must conduct an audiometric test to decide if your hearing loss is work-related. The first relevant question about your employment is whether or not the work you were doing at the time of the accident was injurious (loud enough and for a long enough duration). The physician will review audiometric history, medical history and history of occupational and non-occupational noise exposure.
Exposure to Noise
The physician will then ask about the employee's exposure to noise and/or ototoxic chemicals in the workplace. He or she will review records pertaining to industrial hygiene testing for noise and chemicals.
If you had pre-existing medical conditions that account for all or a portion of your hearing loss, it may disqualify you from or reduce your entitlement to worker’s compensation benefits. OSHA has determined that 85 dBA is a noise level that presents increasing risk of hearing damage. Exposure to toxic chemicals and heavy metals can also be responsible for hearing loss.
The final step in evaluating your hearing loss claim is determining whether the work exposure caused or merely contributed to your hearing problem. After considering all the evidence, the physician will make a conclusion as to the amount of hearing loss, if any, is due to your employment.
As part of the claim, hearing aids are likely the only medical option to treat hearing loss. In extreme cases of near total deafness, cochlear implants may be an option. An ENT physician will determine whether hearing aids or other treatment is needed.