The Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1986 currently determines that for a worker to be entitled to lump sum compensation for noise induced hearing loss, the worker needs to suffer from at least 5% whole person impairment in accordance with Chapter 9 of the WorkCover Guidelines for the evaluation of permanent impairment. Under these Guidelines, the hearing loss assessed must be at least 8.8% binaural hearing loss.
To be eligible for a lump sum payment the report on the level of industrial deafness (and the description of the employee’s description of his working environment), must be supported by a WorkCover accredited ENT Specialist, who has been trained in assessment of industrial hearing impairment.
The ENT will determine whether the level of noise that has been described by the worker is sufficient to cause deterioration in hearing and therefore whether that employment was a cause of the workers loss.
There is no limit as to the number of claims a worker can make so long as they continue being exposed to loud industrial noise and their hearing continues to deteriorate. Once retired however, they are only able to make the one claim as any deterioration in hearing after that claim cannot be attributable to loud noise exposure.
The cost of reasonably necessary hearing aids due to industrial deafness may also be claimed. The cost must be supported/recommended by the WorkCover approved ENT. It is generally accepted that hearing losses of greater than 10% would suggest the individual would benefit from hearing amplification and therefore hearing aids would be approved.
Section 32 of the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1986 allows workers to claim medical expenses (such as hearing aids) if those expenses are ‘reasonably incurred’ by the worker as a result of work-related injuries (such as prolonged exposure to industrial noise).