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Occupational deafness – can workers’ compensation cover it?

On Behalf of | Jan 3, 2024 | workers' compensation |

While the human ear can pick up various sounds, it’s also vulnerable to loud noises. Sufficiently loud sounds can even cause noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).

Although it’s possible to suffer NIHL from exposure to loud sounds in daily life, those whose work involves high-intensity industrial noise – such as construction workers, concert production staff and airport runway crew – are at higher risk of exposure. Occupational deafness is a real problem; the Centers for Disease Control estimated that about 22 million workers are exposed to potentially damaging work noise annually.

Fortunately, workers’ compensation can help treat employees who have suffered hearing loss due to work. But when exactly can a worker claim coverage?

Compensation for occupational hearing loss

Maryland law requires employers (through their insurer) to compensate their employees for hearing loss due to industrial noise. For every decibel that the average hearing loss goes over 25 decibels, the employee receives 1.5% of the compensable hearing loss. They can claim up to 100% compensable hearing loss at 91.7 decibels.

Deafness arising out of employment

However, for an employee to claim compensation for occupational hearing loss, they must be able to prove that the condition arose out of their employment. This can be as simple as proving that the employee’s workplace subjects them to loud sounds. However, employers and their insurers might also want to see how loud the sounds were or how often the noise affected the employee.

Proving occupational deafness might be difficult, especially if the employee has any pre-existing medical conditions (such as old age), which could cause their employer or insurer to think twice about approving the claim. If you suffer work-related hearing loss, consider working with a legal professional. An attorney can help you secure expert testimony and data to support you if your employer turns down your claim.

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