If you are or were previously a sworn police officer, you have most likely been exposed to loud noise at work. Police officers are often exposed to multiple sources of loud noise, such as from police sirens, police car radios, alarms, traffic and/or control crowd, and from the use of firearms including during regular firearm training. Often, hearing protection is impractical or limited.
In our previous blog post “Will I go deaf from that?“, we discussed how exposure to noise levels greater than 85 decibels (dB) can cause industrial deafness. Firearms can create noise well over 140db, and studies have shown that for specifically for police motorcyclists, the noise exposure can range from 63dB to 90dB and up to 105dB in open roads.
If the NSW Police is your last noisy NSW employer, you may be entitled to make a claim for industrial deafness if following an assessment with a State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA; formerly WorkCover) accredited Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist (ENT), you are found to be suffering from such an injury.
You may be entitled to claim any of the following:
- Hearing aids, if these are considered reasonably necessary and required due to the injury.
- Permanent impairment compensation, if you are suffering from at least 6% binaural hearing loss.
- Pain and suffering compensation, if you are entitled to at least 10% of the maximum amount payable for permanent impairment compensation (for hearing loss injuries deemed to occur before 1 January 2002) or if you are suffering from at least 10% whole person impairment (for hearing loss injuries deemed to occur on or after 1 January 2002).
If accepted, your entitlement to hearing aids and related reasonably necessary medical/treatment expenses will be covered by the insurer on an ongoing basis, that is, for life. You may also be entitled to further permanent impairment and pain and suffering compensation if your injury deteriorates in the future.
It is essential that you notify the NSW Police should you be exposed to loud noises resulting in industrial deafness.
The process and legal fees
Slightly different processes apply depending on if you were sworn into the Police prior to or after 1 April 1988.
Pre 88 Officers – Section 12D Claims
This refers to officers sworn into the Police prior to 1 April 1988. The workers compensation scheme applicable to these officers is covered by the Police Regulation (Superannuation) Act 1906 (NSW).
We would first arrange for you to be examined by a SIRA accredited ENT and assuming the ENT’s report is supportive of your claim, we would then formally lodge a claim against the NSW Police and their insurer. The NSW Police would then determine liability in accordance with Section 12D of the Police Regulation (Superannuation) Act 1906 (NSW) and this may involve you being assessed by an ENT on behalf of Hurt on Duty.
Should liability be accepted, your matter will then be referred to the insurer who will determine any claims for permanent impairment and pain and suffering. A further ENT examination, this time on behalf of the insurer, may be required as part of this determination process. Hearing aids and medical/treatment expenses are typically accepted following acceptance of liability.
Should liability be disputed or the insurer makes a counter offer to what was initially claimed, we may need to refer the matter to the residual jurisdiction of the District Court of NSW for resolution.
These claims are dealt with on a “no win, no fee” basis where if you are unsuccessful in obtaining compensation, you will not be charged. The cost of the consultation and report by the SIRA accredited ENT is recoverable through the insurer and you would not need to pay for same.
Post 88 Officers – Exempt worker claims
Officers sworn into the Police after 1 April 1988 are covered by the Workers Compensation Act 1987 (NSW) and Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act 1988 (NSW). They are considered “exempt workers” given they are exempt to the 2012 amendments which implemented stricter compensation laws for workers.
We would first arrange for you to be examined by a SIRA accredited ENT and assuming the ENT’s report is supportive of your claim, we would then formally lodge a claim against NSW Police and their insurer. The insurer will assess the claim and provide a decision with respect to liability. Hearing aids and medical/treatment expenses are typically accepted following acceptance of liability.
A claim for permanent impairment lump sum compensation can be made pursuant to sections 66 and 67 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987 (NSW).
We will ask for the SIRA accredited ENT to quantify your claim for permanent impairment in their report. It is likely that the insurer may seek to have you assessed as well for the purposes of this claim.
Should liability be disputed or the parties cannot reach an agreement, we may then refer the matter to the Workers Compensation Commission for resolution.
Should you be required to take time off work as a result of your injury, it is essential that you seek medical advice from your treating doctor and the insurer be notified of your injury.
If you think you have sustained a hearing loss from your employment with NSW Police, contact us on 13 43 63 to find out more. We have a specialised team who deal with NSW Police claims and can assist you with claiming your workers compensation entitlements.
 Jeanne Huang, ‘Will I go deaf from that?’, Turner Freeman (Blog Post, 5 November 2020) <https://www.turnerfreeman.com.au/blog/will-i-go-deaf-from-that/>.
 Michael Stewart, ‘Recreational Firearm Noise Exposure’, American Speech Language Hearing Association (Web Page) <https://www.asha.org/public/hearing/recreational-firearm-noise-exposure/>.
 Kyaw N Win et al, ‘Noise-Induced Hearing Loss in the Police Force’ (2015) 6(2) Safety and Health at Work 77-158, accessible at <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4476195/#:~:text=The%20results%20revealed%20that%20occupational,had%20the%20highest%20prevalence%20rate.>.
This article was co-written with Sarim Attique.