Many workers are employed in occupations where they are routinely exposed to loud noise. Transit workers, airport workers, mechanics, pressmen, and construction workers are just a few examples of occupations where noise exposure is part of the job. Although many noise-exposed workers use hearing protection, there are often situations where its use is impractical or impossible. Others use hearing protection now but had significant noise exposure earlier in their career.
The Workers’ Compensation Law provides awards for occupational hearing loss, which can include both a money payment and coverage for hearing aids. Before filing a claim, the worker must be out of the noise exposure for at least 90 days. This can be due to retirement, promotion or transfer to a non-noise-exposed position, the employer’s provision of effective hearing protection, or being out of work for at least 90 days for another reason.
In order to prove a claim for occupational hearing loss, the worker must have an audiogram (hearing test) showing noise-related hearing loss as well as a medical opinion that the hearing loss was caused by their occupational noise exposure. The claim must generally be filed within 2 years and 90 days from the date the noise exposure ended, although there are some exceptions to the rule.