Work-related hearing loss is the most common occupational illness in America. According to recent statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, 30 million employees are exposed each year to dangerous levels of noise. Illinois workers in many different industries, from transportation and construction to mining and agriculture, are at risk of significant or complete hearing loss. This quick guide from Algonquin workers’ compensation lawyers offers advice for handling work injury deafness and seeking appropriate benefits.
Why is work-related hearing loss so prevalent?
Many jobs involve significant exposure to noise above 85 decibels, which is the maximum level recommended by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for all employees. Many employers do not provide safety devices such as acoustic barriers or mufflers to decrease this level. OSHA regulations require all workers to wear personal protective equipment in or over their ears when noise exceeds 85 decibels, but these protective items are unavailable or discouraged on some worksites. Employees who are not sufficiently protected should contact Algonquin workers’ compensation lawyers to secure a healthy workplace and suitable compensation for damages.
Hearing loss can lead to complicated workers’ compensation cases
Some workers’ compensation cases, such as amputations or broken bones, can be relatively straightforward and easy to resolve. Hearing loss on the job is more complicated and can lead to difficult, convoluted cases. All of the following factors can combine to make an appeal more controversial:
- Hearing loss almost always occurs gradually, over a period of years or decades.
- Some employees already had some degree of hearing loss when they began a hazardous job.
- Open communication can become more difficult as hearing loss progresses.
- Some workers engage in leisure pursuits such as shooting, diving or snowmobiling which may also contribute to hearing loss.
Even if these problems are present, Algonquin workers’ compensation lawyers can safeguard your rights in a compensation case.
What are my rights as an employee with hearing loss?
If you have suffered hearing loss because of noise on the job or an accident at work, you have the right to apply for Illinois workers’ compensation. According to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, you must provide the details of noise exposure and undergo an audiometric study. If hearing loss is significant between 1000 Hz and 3000 Hz, the normal pitch of human speech, you will be eligible for compensation, up to and including permanent partial disability.
Are you struggling with work-related hearing loss? Speak with Algonquin workers’ compensation lawyers to discover more about your options.