Industrial deafness, occupational deafness or noise induced hearing loss as it is sometimes referred to, is a deterioration of an individual’s hearing over a prolonged period of time as a result of their noisy working environment. Most of the hearing loss injuries affected by working environment occur over a longer period of time, being the result of noise within the industrial environment. Sometimes the hearing loss injuries are recognized during the period of employment, while other times they are not recognized until many years after submission.
In Australia, thousands of people have been affected by this type of deafness. Noisy construction machinery is used in many industrial working areas, such as shipbuilding, coal mining, metal manufacturing and engineering. These workers are put in high risk of deterioration of their hearing. Thus, industrial deafness became a significant social and economic state problem. An estimated one million employees in Australia may be exposed to dangerous levels of noise at work.
Many companies were quite ignorant to the damage caused by such noisy surroundings and they rarely provided their workers with proper hearing protection. As a result, hundreds of thousands of these unprotected workers have suffered industrial deafness. Fortunately, the state government now offers an access to industrial hearing compensation to the workers who are affected by industrial hearing loss. Therefore, if a worker has developed hearing troubles or deafness as a result of work, or had a pre-existing condition that was made worse by work, then he or she may be able to make an industrial deafness compensation claim. If the claim is lodged under the South
Australian workers compensation scheme, it can be made for the following: reimbursement of any hearing aids already purchased; pre-approval of hearing aid purchases and potential lump sum compensation. To be entitled to lump sum compensation the injured person must have a 5% Whole Person Impairment as a result of their hearing loss. This must be calculated by an Ear, Nose and Throat surgeon who is an accredited assessor and registered with Return to Work SA as such. Under the Commonwealth system, the entitlements are the same as the State system. However, the threshold for lump sum compensation is slightly different from South Australian legislation. There is also a possibility to claim for pain and suffering which cannot be claimed under the State Scheme. In order to claim the industrial deafness compensation, the injured worker must provide sufficient evidence to support the claim. When all the evidence is provided, and when all the assessments and confirmations are made, the injured worker can be provided with fair and appropriate compensation for industrial deafness.