Employees who are suffering from hearing loss due to hazardous occupational noise can obtain workers’ compensation in California with an attorney’s assistance. Getting proper legal representation can help them file the necessary paperwork and perform related actions, particularly when an employer denies that the hearing loss is work-related.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), hearing loss is one of the most prevalent occupational health problems in the United States. Approximately 30 million people in the US are exposed to high levels of hazardous occupational noise, and thousands of them suffer from the preventable yet irreversible work-related noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) every year.
This is why OSHA sets legal limits on noise exposure in the workplace and other safety standards on noise prevention. OSHA’s permissible exposure limit (PEL) is 85 dBA (acceptable noise) for all workers on an eight hour work day. Any prolonged exposure to noise with more than 85 dB (decibels) should be limited, especially when safety precautions are not used. For instance, a chain saw with a sound intensity of 110 dB can be dangerous to the unprotected human ear if running for two minutes.
OSHA also requires employers to provide noise controls as the first line of defense against excessive noise exposure. Examples of these include engineering controls such as choosing low-noise tools and machinery, maintaining and lubricating equipment, placing a barrier such as sound walls or curtains between the noise source and the employee, and enclosing the noise source. They can also provide hearing protection devices (HPDs) such as earmuffs and earplugs when acoustic controls are not feasible in the workplace.
When an employee exposed to high levels of occupational noise starts to have difficulty hearing, he should have a hearing test or an audiogram immediately to determine if he has work-related NIHL. To help him file the necessary paperwork and other related actions he should perform to get workers’ compensation, he should get legal representation. In case his employers deny that hearing loss is work-related, the legal representation can also help him prove his claim.