For workers in the manufacturing sector in Pennsylvania and around the country, the most common type of work-related illness is hearing loss. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hearing impairment accounted for one out of every nine reported occupational injuries, or 17,700 cases, in a recent year. Nearly three-quarters of those occurred to people in the manufacturing industry.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that the number of people who work in manufacturing and who have suffered hearing losses is likely much higher. In order to be reportable to OSHA, the hearing loss must be so significant that the person is permanently hearing impaired in addition to being work-related.
The CDC reports that the right time to take preventative measures is when workers are new ,as most of the damage leading to permanent impairment occurs during the first 10 years of being exposed to noise. The agency also indicated that preventative measures should be taken during workers’ careers later on as well, as later hearing loss can affect their ability to understand speech due to the frequencies lost during that period of time.
Like work-related accidents, an occupational illness can result in permanently disabling conditions. Workers’ compensation can provide coverage for associated medical expenses, ongoing treatment needs, prosthetic devices and hearing aids. A workers’ compensation attorney might be able to help a client gather the documentation needed in order to prove that the hearing loss occurred due to the conditions of the particular job. Such medical documentation is often needed in occupational illness workers’ compensation cases, as employers may dispute or deny the claim. Employers sometimes will argue that the illness was not caused by the employee’s work, but rather is due to other factors.
Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, “Occupationally-Induced Hearing Loss “, accessed on Jan. 25, 2015