Hearing loss at work - sudden vs extended

Hearing loss at work - sudden vs extended

Two people have lost their hearing at work. They have each lost 40% of their hearing, both require hearing aids and their lives are now affected in very similar ways. They will be treated the same by the family members and strangers they struggle to hear, but will be treated very differently by WorkCover – because one was injured in an instant, and the other was injured by years of exposure.

Hearing loss caused by injuries such as acoustic shock and perforated ear drums falls within the mainstream WorkCover scheme. This scheme covers most injuries arising out of or in the course of employment and allows for:

  • payment of medical expenses;
  • payment of lost earnings;
  • payment of an impairment benefit if a person’s injury reaches the threshold; and
  • a right to sue if a person is seriously injured because of someone else’s negligence.

To access this scheme, you need to prove your hearing loss arose out of or in the course of employment and is not industrial deafness.

Industrial deafness is identified by losses of hearing in frequencies which are associated with industrial noise. The cumulative nature of this injury means it does not fit within the normal WorkCover scheme, so it is treated differently. If you have industrial deafness, it is assumed it was caused by work and your last noisy employer is deemed to be responsible for your loss.

The industrial deafness scheme is much simpler, fault is irrelevant and assistance comes in the form of lump-sum compensation for lasting impairment and hearing aids.

Adviceline Injury Lawyers are experienced in helping workers with hearing loss who fall under either of these systems. If you contact us on (03) 9321 9988, we will advise on the appropriate scheme for you.

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