Injuries that result in hearing loss can be common in the workplace, especially if you work in a noisy jobsite and don't have proper hearing protection. While noise-induced hearing loss could happen in any type of industry, it is more likely to have an impact on individuals who work in fields such as construction, manufacturing, mining, agriculture and oil extraction where the use of large, noisy equipment is frequent, almost constant.
If your hearing is damaged of if you suffer permanent hearing loss as a result of workplace conditions, you may be able to seek compensation for your damages and losses. An experienced work injury lawyer in LA will be able to guide you through the process and help you secure the compensation you rightfully deserve.
What Causes Work-Related Hearing Loss?
Before you file a work injury claim, it is important to have an understanding of what might have caused your hearing loss. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), occupational hearing loss occurs because of loud noise or as the result of solvents or chemicals that can damage the ears.
This could lead to problems including:
- Sensorineural or nerve damage
- Conductive or damage to the outer or middle ear
- Mixed, which could be a combination of nerve damage and damage to the middle or outer ear
Typically, sensorineural hearing loss is caused by noise. Head injuries and other types of traumatic injuries could lead to mixed or conductive hearing loss. In addition, some injuries could damage the vestibular system or the system that helps control one's balance. This could lead to balance issues such as vertigo, dizziness and so on. Tinnitus or ringing in the ears is also a common consequence of workplace injuries.
How Loud is Too Loud?
The CDC estimates that 22 million workers are exposed to potentially damaging noise at work each year. Hearing loss is preventable whether you work at an entertainment venue, on an airport tarmac or serve as a crane or jackhammer operator. It is important that you know and understand your workplace noise levels. Long Beach airport accidents have resulted in hearing loss in the past, and Long Beach is not alone.
Exposure to loud noise essentially kills the nerve endings in the inner ear. More exposure will result in more dead nerve endings. The result is permanent hearing loss, which cannot be corrected through surgery or without medicine. Noise-induced hearing loss, limits one's ability to hear high frequency sounds and understand speech, which also hampers one's ability to communicate. While hearing aids may help, they do not restore hearing to normal levels.
If you need to raise your voice to speak with someone just 3 feet away, the noise levels might be over 85 decibels. You can measure noise levels using instruments such as sound level meters, noise dosimeters and octave band analyzers. Some of the symptoms that suggest you may have a problem with noise in the workplace include:
- Hearing ringing or humming in your ears even after you leave work
- You need to shout to be heard by coworkers or others who are an arm's length away
- You experience temporary hearing loss when you leave work
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has a Sound Level Meter App available to the public to download on Apple devices. This app measures sound levels in the workplace and provides noise exposure parameters to help reduce occupational noise-induced hearing loss.
What Are OSHA's Noise Level Standards?
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to implement a hearing conservation program when noise is over 85 decibels averaged over 8 working hours. These programs aim to prevent hearing loss at work, preserve and protect remaining hearing and equip employees with the knowledge and tools necessary to protect themselves from hearing loss.
Collecting Compensation for Work-Related Hearing Loss
If your hearing loss is directly related to an unsafe workplace hazard or injury suffered on the job in California, you may be able to collect workers' compensation benefits. Whether you are eligible or not for compensation would depend on the details of your case. If you are eligible for workers' comp benefits, you can receive medical expenses including the cost of hearing assistive devices such as hearing aids or cochlear implants. You may also be able to receive compensation for a portion of your wages lost because of your injury.
It is critical to remember that there are time limits to file your claim. This could again depend on who you are filing a claim against and other specific details. A skilled Los Angeles work injury lawyer can help guide you through the process of filing a claim and provide legal counsel.
What the Claim Process Entails
If you believe you are losing your hearing as a result of your jobs, there are a number of steps you would be well advised to take. First, as soon as you start noticing loss of hearing, you should seek medical attention from a doctor who can provide written proof of your condition. Request a workers' comp claim form (DWC 1) from your employer, fill out your portion and give it to your employer. They should then fill out their portion and send it to the insurance company right away. Gather as much information as possible about your injury including how your hearing was affected.
The insurance company should get back to you within 14 days of telling you whether they are approving or denying your claim. If your claim is denied, it is important that you contact an experienced Los Angeles work injury lawyer who can help re-evaluate your claim. The knowledgeable work injury attorneys at Greenberg and Ruby Injury Attorneys, APC can assist you with the claim process and help ensure that you receive maximum compensation for your losses. Call us to schedule your free, comprehensive and confidential consultation.