Occupational hearing loss is the most common work-related illness in the country. Around 22 million workers in the U.S. each year are exposed to hazardous levels of noise at work. An additional nine million are exposed to chemicals that damage their hearing.

A worker who loses his or her hearing may require surgery and/or a hearing aid. Pennsylvania workers’ compensation benefits can pay for these medical costs if the loss of hearing is work-related.

In Pennsylvania, the workers’ compensation statute also provides for scheduled loss benefits equal to 260 weeks for total hearing loss from trauma.  Those who have experienced partial hearing loss are also entitled to scheduled loss benefits based on the percentage of loss.

Making a claim for hearing loss benefits can be complicated. If you have suffered work-related hearing damage, you should contact the workers’ compensation attorneys of Shor & Levin, P.C., for help with your claim. We serve clients throughout Pennsylvania.

How Common Is Hearing Loss on the Job?

As employers have become more aware of the risks of noise exposure, hearing loss rates have declined in Pennsylvania and across the U.S. Unfortunately, a significant number of workers still suffer damage to their hearing each year.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has tracked the percentage of hearing loss within the private sector from 2004 to 2010:

labor stat1

Source: http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2012/07/art4full.pdf

While this data reveals a slight reduction in the number of affected workers, it also shows that hearing loss continues to be a major problem in certain industries.

The BLS tracks the cases of hearing loss per 10,000 full-time workers. These data show that workers in the manufacturing and mining industry have a significantly higher rate of hearing loss than those in other fields:

labor stat2

Source: http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2012/07/art4full.pdf 

Employers in high-risk industries need to take steps to protect workers from experiencing hearing loss due to excess noise exposure. Steps that can be taken to prevent hearing loss among workers include:

  • Installing mufflers
  • Building acoustic barriers
  • Mandating the use of ear plugs and ear muffs.

Unfortunately, some workplaces inherently involve exposure to excess noise. Protecting hearing over the course of a career can be difficult.

Older workers who have spent their lives in high-risk industries are especially likely to suffer significant hearing loss, with large percentages of workers having noticeable damage.

The following chart shows the percentage of workers in different industries that have experienced hearing loss by the age of 50:

hearing loss by age

Source: http://www.audicus.com/blogs/hearing-aids-blog/6071738-the-shocking-data-about-noise-induced-hearing-loss-in-the-workforce

To obtain workers’ compensation benefits based on hearing loss, you must be able to prove the link between your impairment and your job. Demonstrating that you were routinely exposed to excess noise is important evidence in a work injury claim based on hearing loss.  Statistics from your industry can also help to strengthen your case and prove that your work was the cause of harm.

Contact a PA Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today

An experienced attorney from Shor & Levin, P.C., can help workers affected by hearing loss to show their impairment was caused by work. To schedule a free consultation, contact us without delay.