*The contents in this blog relates to legislation in New South Wales.

Emergency services workers in NSW were exempt from certain changes that were made to the Workers Compensation Act 1987 in 2012.

These workers are:

  1. Police officers who were sworn on or after 1 April 1988;
  2. Paramedics; and
  3. Firefighters (not including volunteers).

What are exempt workers entitled to claim for industrial deafness?

Like all workers, this group of exempt workers may be able to claim the ongoing costs of hearing aids and permanent impairment (monetary) compensation.

What is different however is the minimum hearing loss that is required in order for an exempt worker to be entitled to permanent impairment compensation is much lower.

Emergency services personnel need only 6% hearing loss in both ears to be entitled to monetary compensation. This is in contrast to other workers (who were last exposed to noisy employment after 1 January 2002) who require at least 20.5% binaural hearing loss instead.

Exempt workers may also be entitled to pain and suffering compensation, in addition to permanent impairment compensation, unlike most other workers.

What is the process?

Following initial consultation, the Turner Freeman Industrial Deafness team will arrange for you to undergo a free hearing test if you have not previously undergone one. We will then arrange for you to be examined by an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Specialist, who will note your employment history, provide an opinion as to whether hearing aids are reasonably necessary and required as a result of the injury, and provide an assessment of your degree of hearing loss due to loud noise exposure at work.

Should the ENT assess you as suffering from at least 6% binaural hearing loss due occupational noise exposure, you will be entitled to claim compensation, including hearing aids as well monetary compensation. The amount of monetary compensation you can claim depends on your degree of loss.

If you are a police officer, ambulance officer or firefighter, we recommend you find out if you have a hearing loss from the noise you are exposed to at work.  Contact your local Turner Freeman Lawyers office today to find out more about your potential rights and entitlements.