Can I File for Workers Compensation if I Have Occupational Hearing Loss?
Did you know that occupational hearing loss is a prevalent workplace injury that can result in permanent loss of hearing? It’s usually a consequence of working in unsafe work conditions and noise levels, without any personal protective equipment.
Most victims however hesitate to inform their supervisors about the loss. It’s because some fear being treated differently by co-workers, and others are in denial.
Why You Should Inform Your Supervisor
It’s however better if you discuss your problem with your employer for the following reasons:
- The hearing loss can induce poor workplace communication and confuse reporting it lets others know why you didn’t appropriately follow instructions or give replies.
It, in turn, helps you perform better as a team member.
- Besides, as employees with hearing loss are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, disclosing it protects you against discrimination.
It also provides you with access to benefits.
- Your employer can work at creating a safe and productive work environment. Besides, once your condition is disclosed, you can also tell your co-workers about it, and teach them how to communicate with you.
How to Create a Positive Work Environment
There are many steps you can adopt to create a positive and productive work environment like:
- Creating a list and writing notes and being prepared for the day’s chores.
- Working, meeting, and making phone calls from places with minimal noise.
- Confirming everything discussed verbally or in writing after the meeting or phone call ends.
- Creating a consistent workplace routine and working with co-workers who are ready to help you.
- Maintaining consistent and quiet work conditions for maximum productivity.
- Avoiding excuses and acting as if you don’t have any hearing loss. It only complicates matters, makes it more challenging to work, and leads to negative relationships with co-workers. It’s better, to be honest about your condition instead of letting co-workers think you are inattentive or careless.
- Wearing a hearing aid because it promotes work efficiency and communication.
How Your Employer Can Help
Depending on the extent of your hearing loss, you can request your employer for some accommodations like:
- Using hearing aid compatible telephones and a captioned telephone service.
- Giving written assignments and discussions and providing your supervisor with a written summary acknowledging your duties.
- Keeping you prepared by providing an advanced agenda of the meeting
- Using emergency notifications systems like strobe lights on fire alarms or multiple frequency alarms so that you know when the alarm rings.
Can I File a Workers’ Compensation Claim for Hearing Loss?
While it is indeed possible, there are a few factors to consider because not all hearing loss is covered.
Hearing frequency loss between 4,000 and 6,000 Hertz isn’t protected. Only hearing loss within the 500 and 3,000 Hertz range, with an average of 25 or fewer decibels is covered.
You should have been under 50 when you were last exposed to the noise. Your average increases by 1.5 decibels for each year over 50.
Your employer when you got occupational hearing loss pays your compensation only if you had worked there for at least 90 days. If you suffered from occupational hearing loss while working for two bosses then both employers share and pay you your benefits.
You have two years to file for hearing loss from the moment you started losing your hearing. However, hearing loss is a gradual process, making it challenging to identify the exact moment the loss started.
You can always file after missing the deadline, but it’s a more complicated process.
That’s why it’s better to discuss your problem with an expert Glendale workers’ compensation attorney. They will work at protecting your legal rights and at securing your rightful benefits.