If you have worked in a coal mine, you know that a coal mine is typically very noisy. Mining machinery and processes can generate a significant amount of noise, and hearing protection can only do so much.

In 2015, Coal Services found that 90.7% of worker’s that received a periodic medical said they were regularly exposed to noise.[1] If you have been exposed to noise while working in a coal mine, you may be entitled to make a claim for industrial deafness.

A claim must be made against your last ‘noisy’ employer. Whether or not you are considered to be a ‘coal miner’ under workers compensation laws depends on whether you worked ‘in or about a coal mine’ whilst employed by your last noisy employer. This means, for example, if your last ‘noisy’ employer was in a different industry (and so you did not work ‘in or about a coal mine’) you will not be considered a coal miner, even if you have otherwise worked in coal mines for your whole career. If this situation applies to you, see our previous blog post “I think I have work-related hearing loss – what now?”.[2]

It is important to determine who your last noisy employer is and whether you are a coal miner, as different rules apply to different types of workers. The purpose of this blog is to highlight those differences. If you are unsure as to whether you would be considered a coal miner under the NSW workers compensation scheme, speak to one of our experienced lawyers today. You can contact us on 13 43 63.

The threshold for compensation

For coalminers, the threshold to receive lump sum compensation is 6% binaural hearing loss attributable to work. This differs from the 20.5% binaural hearing loss threshold that applies to most other workers in NSW who are not coalminers.

The process

In order to determine whether your level of hearing loss meets the 6% threshold, you must be assessed by a Medical Panel. A Medical Panel is a panel of medical experts appointed by the Residual Jurisdiction of the District Court of NSW to provide a medical assessment. In industrial deafness claims, you will be assessed by a panel of Ear, Nose and Throat specialists who will conduct a hearing assessment to determine your level of hearing loss. After your assessment, the Medical Panel will issue a Certificate with their assessment of your hearing loss.

If you are assessed by the Medical Panel to have less than 6% noise-induced binaural hearing loss, you will not be entitled to lump sum compensation. If you are assessed to have 6% binaural hearing loss or more, you will be entitled to make a claim for lump sum compensation based on your level of hearing loss under section 66 of the Worker’s Compensation Act 1987 (‘the Act’).

Depending on the amount you receive for your hearing loss, you may be entitled to make a further claim for your pain and suffering also.

Legal fees

Your legal fees are paid by the relevant workers compensation insurer at the conclusion of your claim. At Turner Freeman, we act for our clients on a no win, no fee basis. This means if you are unsuccessful in obtaining compensation, you will not be charged.

If you think you have sustained hearing loss from work, speak to an experienced worker’s compensation lawyer by contacting us on 13 43 63 today, to find out more.

[1]Hearing Loss’, Coal Services, (Webpage).

[2] Larissa Pearson, ‘I think I have work-related hearing loss – what now?‘, Turner Freeman Lawyers (Blog Post, 17 July 2020).