Many Atlanta workers are subjected to loud levels of noise during their work day. Some of this exposure is simply part of the job and is unavoidable, some of this exposure is due to accidents, or violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act regulations on noise levels in the workplace. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, permissible exposure levels are tied to the length of the worker’s exposure to the noise. For instance:
- Workers should not be exposed to loud noise that is greater than 90 decibels for more than eight hours in a work day. 90 decibels is equivalent to standing next to an electric blender with no hearing protection.
- Workers should not be exposed to noise levels greater than 95 decibels for more than four hours in a work day. 95 decibels is equivalent to standing next to a gas lawn mower while it is running with no hearing protection.
- Workers should not be exposed to noise levels greater than 115 decibels for more than a quarter hour in a work day. 115 decibels is equivalent to a jet flying overhead at only one thousand feet, or being at a rock concert with no hearing protection.
Additionally, when workers are exposed to high levels of noise as part of their job, employers are required to provide workers with engineering controls to reduce the sound. This could include providing workers with ear plugs, protective ear guards, other forms of hearing protection, sound reducing barriers between the workers and the source of the sound, etc.
Hearing Loss and Workers’ Compensation
Many Atlanta workers suffer gradual (i.e., occupational) or sudden (i.e., traumatic) hearing loss while on the job. The hearing loss could be the result of years of exposure to loud noises or sound, or could be the result of a sudden accident. Workers who have suffered hearing loss due to their work-related activities should seek counsel with an experienced Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible.
There are hundreds of occupations and jobs where workers are exposed to high levels of loud noise during their work day, or are exposed to risk of suddenly suffering hearing loss. Some typical examples of workers who are prone to work-related hearing loss include, but are not limited to:
- Construction workers;
- Demolition workers;
- Fire fighters;
- Emergency personnel and ambulance drivers;
- Ground crew employees at the airport;
- Firing range employees;
- Firing/shooting instructors;
- Concert employees;
- Nightclub or entertainment establishment owners or workers;
- Industrial workers;
- Manufacturing workers;
- Shipbuilders; and
Any worker who is exposed to potential hearing loss hazards, or loud noises during their workday, could suffer hearing loss and other ear injuries. Hearing loss is a form of workplace injury that is covered by workers’ compensation insurance. Injured workers should consult with an experienced Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer regarding their specific case.
Traumatic Hearing Loss and Occupational Hearing Loss
When workers suffer on the job hearing loss injuries, the hearing loss takes one of two forms: traumatic hearing loss and occupational hearing loss. Each type of hearing loss is treated differently when it comes to workers’ compensation claims, so it is important to understand the differences between traumatic hearing loss and occupational hearing loss.
- Traumatic Hearing Loss. Traumatic hearing loss is attributed to a sudden traumatic incident or accident. This could be a sudden very loud noise, or a pressure burst that causes damage to the ear drum. Hearing loss could be partial, or complete loss of the worker’s ability to hear. When traumatic hearing loss occurs in one ear, the injured worker may be eligible for up to 75 weeks of workers’ compensation benefits. When the traumatic hearing loss occurs in both ears, the injured worker may be eligible for up to 150 weeks of workers’ compensation benefits.
- Requirements for Proving Traumatic Hearing Loss: In order to prove traumatic hearing loss for the purposes of workers’ compensation claims, an injured worker must show that the hearing loss is the result of a workplace accident or injury. This is a relatively low burden of proof for injured workers.
- Occupational Hearing Loss. Occupational hearing loss is attributable to years and years of prolonged exposure to loud noises while on the job, which have caused damage to a worker’s hearing over time. Hearing loss could be partial, or complete loss of the worker’s ability to hear. Workers’ compensation benefits based on occupational hearing loss are payable for 150 weeks for total occupational hearing loss. For partial occupational hearing loss, the duration of workers’ compensation benefits are based on the partial hearing loss relative to total occupational hearing loss.
- Requirements for Proving Occupational Hearing Loss: Occupational hearing loss, or hearing loss that occurs over a long period of time, requires more proof than a workers’ compensation based on traumatic hearing loss when filing a workers’ compensation claim. For starters, the hearing loss must be permanent and must be sensorineural in nature (i.e., not tinnitus). The hearing loss must exist in both ears from exposure to sound levels above 90 decibels, and must be a loss of an average of 15 decibels. The exposure that caused the hearing loss must have spanned a period of time that is more than 90 days, and the worker cannot file for workers’ compensation until six months have passed since exposure to the harmful noise.
A Workers’ Compensation Attorney Can Help You!
Hearing loss is something that affects a person’s entire life, not just their ability to work. Workers who suffer traumatic or occupational hearing loss need to speak with an experienced Atlanta work injury compensation lawyer as soon as possible about their injuries and about filing a workers’ compensation claim lawyer. The professionals at Bader Scott Injury Lawyers are committed to helping Atalanta workers seek and obtain workers’ compensation when they suffer hearing loss due to their job. We are ready to get to work on your workers’ compensation claim today!