Do You Have Hearing Loss Due to Noise at Your Workplace?
Numerous Louisiana employees work in noisy environments. Professional industries such as construction, farming, manufacturing, bartending, and other professions pose a serious risk to employees’ hearing.
Noise-induced hearing loss is a condition in which a person’s inner ear is damaged from loud noises. According to the Center for Disease Control, over 10 million Americans under the age of 70 suffer from hearing loss due to loud noises.
If you suffer from hearing loss due to your work environment, you can qualify for workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that covers an employee’s medical bills, lost wages, and vocational rehabilitation when they’re injured or develop a condition from their work.
Are you exposed to loud sounds at your work? You need to be on the lookout for signs of noise-induced hearing loss.
Hearing Loss and Decibel Measurements
Persistent exposure to loud noises can cause hearing loss. The loudness of a sound is measured in decibels, and prolonged exposure to decibels over a certain number causes hearing loss. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders states that sounds around or below 70 decibels (dB) are not likely to cause hearing loss. Prolonged exposure to sounds above 85 dB can result in noise-induced hearing loss. For a frame of reference, here’s a list indicating different sounds and their decibel levels:
- Average conversation: 60-70 dB
- Motorcycle: 80-110 dB
- Concerts and Sporting Events: 94-110 dB
- Sirens: 110-129 dB
- Fireworks show: 140-160 dB
- Jet engine during takeoff: 140-160 dB
- Shotgun sounds: around 160 dB
The louder an activity, the less time it takes for the noise to result in noise-induced hearing loss. Because many workers are exposed to hours of high-decibel sounds, they have a high risk of suffering from hearing loss.
Symptoms of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
When someone begins suffering from noise-induced hearing loss, they typically will have a harder time hearing higher frequencies. Additionally, those suffering from hearing loss may have a harder time hearing certain consonant sounds, including “s,” “sh,” “th,” and “f” sounds. They’ll likely have difficulty understanding certain words that contain these sounds.
Additional symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss may include:
- Ear pain
- Speaking loudly
- Trouble hearing quieter voices
- Difficulty having a conversation in loud environments
- Ringing or buzzing in your ears, known as tinnitus
- Hearing the same sound twice in your ears, known as diplacusis
Workers’ Compensation For Hearing Loss in Louisiana
Employees are often not supplied with ear protection in loud environments, leading to noise-induced hearing loss. Hearing loss is an occupational illness, which is a condition that an employee develops as a result of their work.
The Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act states that an occupational illness is a “disease or illness which is due to causes and conditions characteristic of and peculiar to the particular trade, occupation, process, or employment in which the employee is exposed to such disease.” If you suffer from hearing loss because of your work, you need to be able to prove that your condition directly resulted from your work or your work environment.
For example, if you developed hearing loss at work because you were listening to music via headphones, that wouldn’t qualify you for workers’ compensation because even though hearing loss occurred while at work, the work or work environment didn’t cause the hearing loss.
It’s also important to note that workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, so you don’t need to prove that someone was negligent in order to recover workers’ compensation. Additionally, there have been law cases in which victims of noise-induced hearing loss filed a tort claim to recover compensation from employers. Workers’ compensation gives employers tort immunity, so you can recover workers’ compensation benefits but not damages in a civil lawsuit against your employer.
Do You Suffer From Hearing Loss? Contact a Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you develop noise-induced hearing loss from your job, you have the right to seek workers’ compensation for medical bills and lost wages. Unfortunately, many injured workers struggle with receiving the full benefits they’re entitled to. Employers and insurance companies attempt to underpay or deny claims in order to save money.
You need expert workers’ compensation lawyers at your side to ensure that you receive the benefits you deserve for your hearing loss. For expert legal guidance you can trust, contact Lunsford, Baskin, and Priebe, PLLC. Our attorneys specialize in workers’ compensation in Louisiana. With our expert knowledge and experience, we’ll represent you and ensure that you maximize your claim. Call our New Orleans office at 504-788-2994, or schedule a free case evaluation by clicking here.