Hearing loss can be detrimental to a person’s quality of life. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), around 30 million people are exposed to chemicals dangerous to their ears at work and another 22 million are exposed to dangerous levels of noise. When workers are exposed over a long period of time this can result in permanent hearing damage and tinnitus. OSHA limits exposure to loud noises in the workplace to curb its negative effects. Workers should be exposed to noise levels above 85 decibels for no more than eight hours. They should also use protective devices in their ears to curb any hearing damage at this noise level. The cost of an injury you endure while trying to get your job done should not fall on you. If you experience hearing loss or tinnitus that you believe is related to hazardous noise levels at work, you may be entitled to compensation.
Who is at risk?
As humans, we are all vulnerable to hearing loss in loud environments. Some professions carry greater risks than others.
- Military workers. Military workers are exposed to loud noises from weapons and other heavy machinery.
- Truck drivers. Eighteen wheelers produce high levels of noise, and many drivers spend time in factors and warehouses that use heavy machinery.
- Airport tarmac workers. Workers are extremely close to jet engines and other heavy machinery for operating planes.
- Construction workers. Construction workers around jackhammers, drills and other equipment. The projects they work on are on asphalt and concrete which carries sound posing an additional risk.
Symptoms of injuries relating to loud noises include: total or partial deafness, ringing or buzzing sounds in the ears, and continuous or intermittent tinnitus.
What is workers compensation?
A workers compensation claim is not based on fault. Even if your employer was exercising the highest possible level of caution, you have a claim. All you have to prove is that you were exposed to a dangerous level of noise on the job, and that exposure caused your injury. Almost all employees in the state of Massachusetts are covered by workers compensation insurance. To be eligible you must suffer a work-related injury or illness. You may also recover if you are a dependent of a worker killed on the job. Compensation will cover relevant medical bills, lost wages, and possibly the cost of rehabilitation services. A personal injury claim may also be available if your injury was caused by the negligence of some party other than your employer. We can help you determine if this avenue is available to you.
What am I entitled to?
Massachusetts law acknowledges the prevalence of hearing loss in the workplace. Workers compensation allows for compensation for lost wages and medical bills. Additional damages are calculated using the State Average Weekly Wage (SAWW), which is determined by the Massachusetts government each year. This additional amount will be issued in one lump sum.
- Hearing loss in a single ear will result in damages 29 times the amount of the SAWW.
- Hearing loss in both ears will result in damages 77 times the SAWW.
What should I do?
Contact us to get your claim started. We will likely hire an audiologist to evaluate the extent of your hearing loss.
If you are ever injured on the job, after you seek medical attention for your injuries, contact our workers’ compensation team at Altman & Altman LLP. Our experienced work injury lawyers are available around the clock to answer your questions or to provide you a free case consultation. To speak to a local and dedicated workers’ compensation lawyer, give us a call at 617.492.3000.