Workers’ comp claims are often associated with slips and falls or back injuries, but several injuries or bodily damage can occur on the job site. Though hearing loss can occur naturally as someone ages, continual exposure to harsh, loud, and repetitive noises in the daily environment can damage the inner ear and create hearing problems. It may not be noticeable right away, but work-related hearing loss is a common problem in many industries that can be filed against a workers’ comp policy. However, this type of loss can be prevented.
Risks and Exposures
There are different levels of exposure across the industries, with the following fields being the most likely to impact employee hearing:
- Military positions
It’s not to say that work-related hearing can’t occur in positions outside of these fields, but using heavy equipment, machinery, and loud tools increases the risk level of these workers. Repeated exposure to noises louder than 85 decibels or above leads to hearing loss, but even a short burst of sound at a much higher decibel can cause damage. Proximity to the sound and length of time without hearing protection also causes hearing loss to occur more rapidly.
Protecting Your Employees
Carrying workers’ comp insurance is a requirement in most states. However, the amount of coverage and areas of application can vary from state to state, as well as the insurance provider. Small companies with few employees could be exempted from carrying workers’ comp coverage. Still, it’s in a company’s best interest to offer protection from the cost of hearing loss through safety equipment and comprehensive insurance coverage.
Not every policy will cover the total costs of an employee’s hearing loss claims. For instance, there are parameters for the filing time period as well as establishing when or how the hearing loss occurred. Companies may be required to conduct hearing evaluations on all new hires to set a baseline for evaluation if a hearing-related claim is filed.
Understanding Work-Related Hearing Loss
Hearing loss could be caused by a traumatic event, such as exposure to loud noises or chemicals in the ears. If nitriles, solvents, or other chemicals are involved, the damage could be slow and gradual, weakening the hearing over time. Hearing loss could be sensorineural (related to the nerves), conductive (outer or middle ear damage) or mixed (a combination of conductive and sensorineural). Whether prolonged exposure, acoustic trauma, or a head injury is involved, it could take an employee awhile before realizing a hearing problem exists.
Employees must report symptoms of hearing loss to their workplace supervisor and follow the appropriate application and filing processes if a claim is going to be made against workers’ comp. Filing deadlines and substantiated claims are two factors that could prevent an employee from getting the injury covered.
InsureMyWorkComp is a digital brokerage that helps clients find the right workers’ compensation solution for their business needs. Unlike other online platforms, we will help you to work with an agent who can provide you the right solution for your risk profile. Our staff has over 50 years of workers’ compensation underwriting and sales experience, and we are confident that we will provide you the support that you need. For more information or to get a quote, contact us today at (855) 340-9138.