Can I be Compensated for Work-Related Hearing Loss?

work compensation

In Australia, approximately one in seven people will develop hearing loss.[1] From this portion, studies suggest that 37% are a result of noise induced hearing loss, including exposure at work.[2]This is common for those who work in the construction, manufacturing and automotive industries.The effects of exposure to hazardous noise levels can range from constant ringing in the ears (also known as tinnitus) to permanent hearing loss.

Under the VictorianWorkCover scheme, you are entitled to compensation if your employment is causative of or is a significant contributing factor to your hearing loss. Generally speaking, if you were exposed to damaging noise in the course of your employment and you have suffered hearing loss, your claim should be accepted.

What should I do if I notice hearing loss?

1.Speak to your employer – Inform them of hearing loss symptoms. If you work in a noisy work environment, you should ask your employer to provide you with the appropriate hearing protection.

2. Consult your GP – Your doctor can advise you about the appropriate treatment requirements and whether a referral to an Audiologist is necessary.

3. Lodge a WorkCover claim – A WorkCover claim should be lodged with your last employer that has contributed to your hearing loss. There is no requirement for you to be working to lodge your claim.

What are my entitlements?

Once your claim is accepted, you are entitled to the following:

1.Weekly payments

a. For the first 13 weeks from the date of your incapacity, you are entitled to 95% of your pre-injury average weekly earnings if you cannot perform your pre-injury duties.

b. From 14 weeks to 130 weeks from the date of your incapacity, you are entitled to 80% of your pre-injury average weekly earnings if you cannot perform your pre-injury duties.

c. After 130 weeks from the date of your incapacity, you are entitled to 80% of your pre-injury average weekly earnings if you cannot perform any suitable employment on an indefinite basis.

2. Medical and like services – The WorkCover insurer will pay the reasonable cost of any medical and like expenses that are referable to your work-related hearing loss. These expenses can include hearing aids or devices.

3. A lump sum impairment benefit–You are entitled to a modest lump sum benefit, provided that your hearing loss impairment is permanent and assessed at a whole person impairment rating of 10% or more.Currently, the maximum amount that can be awarded for a total loss of hearing is $206,500.[3]

4. Common law damages – If the consequences of your hearing loss are considered ‘serious’ and negligence can be established against your employer, you may be entitled to damages for pain and suffering and economic loss.

How is my hearing loss impairment assessed?

Once an impairment benefit claim is lodged, the WorkCover insurer will arrange for you to be examined by an Otolaryngologist (ENT specialist). The specialist will assess your National Acoustics Laboratory (NAL) hearing loss level, which is then converted to a whole person impairment percentage.

Is there a time limit on lodging a hearing loss claim?

You should lodge your Worker’s Injury Claim Form within 30 days of becoming aware of your hearing loss. Our team of lawyers can assist you with completing your claim form.

If you are not sure whether you have sustained work-related hearing loss, please contact us on 1800 853 085. We work on a complete ‘No Win No Fee’ basis and will ensure that you receive the entitlements that you deserve.

[1] Hearing Care Industry Association, Hearing for Life – The Value of Hearing Services for Vulnerable Australians (March 2020).

[2] Hearing Care Industry Association, The Social and Economic Cost of Hearing Loss in Australia(June 2017).

[3]https://www1.worksafe.vic.gov.au/vwa/claimsmanual/Claims_Manual/6-specialised-payments/6.2_Impairment_Benefits/PDFs/Indexation_2021/no-disadvantage-20-current.pdf.