I have been exposed to noise at work. Am I entitled to compensation?

I have been exposed to noise at work. Am I entitled to compensation?

Exposure to occupational noise can result in permanent reduction in hearing with effects typically being irreversible. Common examples of occupational noise include a landscaper’s exposure to lawn mowers, a process worker’s exposure to the sound of machinery and a construction worker’s exposure to the sound of jackhammer.

Hearing loss can have a huge impact on a person’s life. People suffering from noise related hearing loss often have difficulty hearing when there is a lot of background noise. This can make it difficult to hear conversations when in a crowd of people, or even hear the television when the sound is turned up high. Many also suffer from tinnitus which presents as a high-pitch ringing in the ears.

The Victorian state government provides a scheme for workers who have incurred occupational hearing loss with access to compensation. Workers may be eligible for hearing aids and other medical expenses as well as lump sum compensation.

The first step to accessing compensation is understanding your rights and obligations.

What compensation am I entitled to?

For work-related hearing loss, WorkSafe can pay:

  • Reasonable costs of a range of hearing medical services and devices
  • Weekly payments if you suffer an incapacity for work resulting from, or materially contributed to by your hearing loss injury
  • A lump sum benefit if you have suffered permanent hearing loss

Reasonable costs of a range of hearing services and devices

Hearing services and devices can only be provided by providers who have been approved by WorkSafe. Before you seek help for your hearing loss, make sure to ask the service provider whether they have been pre-approved by WorkSafe.

Hearing services include:

  • Hearing needs assessment – determines your level of independence and hearing needs
  • Hearing device fitting package – provision of hearing device and any assistive listening accessories, batteries for the hearing device, consultations required to facilitate your adjustment to your work-related hearing loss
  • Hearing consultation, review and/or maintenance – payment for hearing device maintenance and adjustment of any assistive listening accessories

Weekly payments

If your hearing loss renders you unable to perform the work that you were performing prior to suffering your work-related hearing loss, WorkSafe can pay you weekly payments.

  • First 13 weeks - you will be entitled to 95% of your pre-injury average weekly earnings
  • From 14 weeks to 130 weeks - you will be entitled to 80% of your pre-injury average weekly earnings
  • After 130 weeks - if you have no capacity for any work and this is likely to continue indefinitely, you will be entitled to 80% of your pre-injury average weekly earnings

Lump sum benefit

If you are left with permanent hearing loss, you may be entitled to a lump sum compensation. There are minimum levels of impairment that you must have before you will qualify for a lump sum benefit.

How do I make a claim for hearing loss?

To make a claim for hearing loss, you will have to complete the Worker’s Injury Claim Form which can be found here (<https://content.api.worksafe.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/2019-09/FOR-Workers-injury-claim-form-2016-12.pdf>).

Once you have submitted this form with your employer, it must be passed onto your employer’s authority WorkCover insurer. The WorkCover Insurer will advise as to whether your claim for hearing loss has been approved, denied, or further information is required. 

If you have any questions regarding lodging a claim form, please call Gordon Legal on 9603 3000 to speak to a friendly staff member who can step you through the process.

I’ve had multiple employers; how do I know who to claim against?

Hearing loss injuries can occur over a long period of time throughout which it is likely that you worked for multiple employers. The law does not require you to lodge claims against multiple employers. Instead, liability attaches to the last employer in time who exposed you to occupational noise and the claim is to be lodged against that employer.

Is there a time limit?

There is no time limit for making a hearing loss claim but it is a good idea to get the ball rolling on your claim as soon as possible.

Case Study: Harry

Harry’s hearing slowly declined over the course of his employment as an electrician. He was exposed to loud noise generated by grinders and motors. Harry was eventually diagnosed with industrial deafness. A colleague of Harry’s told him to seek advice from Gordon Legal.

Harry went and saw a Workers’ Compensation specialist at Gordon Legal who advised him that he had strong prospects of accessing lump sum compensation for his hearing loss. Five months after his first meeting with Gordon Legal, Harry’s employer’s WorkCover insurer agreed to compensate him by making a lump sum payment of $26,000.

If Harry’s story sounds familiar, or you have suffered hearing loss as a result of your employment, our expert team can advise you of your rights and the best possible legal path for you to take. Contact us today on 9603 3000 for an obligation free appointment.