The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about $242 million is paid out nationally every year in workers’ compensation benefits for people who suffered work-related hearing impairments. This makes loss of hearing the most frequent U.S. occupational injury.
The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) stated that about 30 million U.S. workers are subjected to “hazardous noise” annually. Hearing loss is usually permanent once it is gone. The conditions vary from inability to hear sounds under normal circumstances to ringing in the ear, known as tinnitus.
These conditions have a negative impact on a person’s social life, making it harder to hear in a crowd, which can lead to depression or lower self-esteem, due to discouragement to attend social events due to the difficulty.
Employers are responsible for controlling noise levels and providing protective equipment, like earmuffs or earplugs, to protect worker safety. Usually hearing loss can be prevented if the proper equipment is provided. OSHA requires specific noise limits in the workplace.
The National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) found that the manufacturing industry employs about 13 percent of U.S. workers and the top work-related injury in manufacturing is hearing loss, accounting for 11 percent of illnesses. However, they believe that the actual number of workers with hearing injuries is even higher than that.
In Massachusetts, anyone who suffers from hearing loss due to a job-related injury should file a claim for workers’ compensation.
Pulgini & Norton, LLP attorneys have handled workers’ compensation claims for over 25 years in and around Boston and its surrounding areas. If you or a family member has been injured at work and would like to seek legal assistance, please contact us at (781) 843-2200 or (888) 344-2046 or email us.
Massachusetts workers’ compensation: job-related hearing loss, Digital Journal, May 11, 2013