Fault is not relevant when discussing compensation for industrial deafness. A worker who refused to wear hearing protection is entitled to the same assistance as the person who was instructed not to. The entitlements available to you are the same regardless of fault or the cause of your industrial deafness – as long as the hearing loss arose out of or in the course of employment from exposure to noise in the industrial frequencies.
The only exception to this is losing your hearing at work but not suffering from industrial deafness. For example, if there was a sudden explosion or you suffered head trauma and lost your hearing as a result. If hearing loss from work is not industrial deafness, fault becomes relevant. In that case, the claim would be handled under the mainstream WorkCover scheme. A person who was responsible for an accident which damaged their hearing is still entitled to most WorkCover assistance but cannot sue their employer.
If an employer negligently caused you hearing loss (which is not industrial deafness), you should explore whether you have a serious injury and can be compensated for that loss. Compensation will be available to a worker who is seriously injured and their employer is at fault.
Many of our clients are reluctant to bring claims because they did not wear hearing protection in a noisy environment and feel they have caused their own hearing loss. Any fault on your part is irrelevant within the hearing loss arm of WorkCover. The law in Victoria places a lot of responsibility on employers to ensure the safety of their workers and this is reflected in the WorkCover scheme. While individuals would be wise to protect their hearing loss, it is employers and their insurers who pay if you do not.
If you have suffered exposure to noise in your workplace or had an accident at work and lost hearing as a result, your employer should provide you with assistance through either of these WorkCover schemes.
If you would like help to access this assistance, you can contact our Hearing Loss team on (03) 9321 9988.