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Does hearing loss entitle you to workers' compensation?

Many workers' compensation claims are centered around one clear event that took place. A worker falls from a roof, for instance. It's easy to trace his or her injuries back to that specific event and even to connect many costs -- medical bills, lost wages and the like -- to those injuries.

However, what about something that happens gradually, over time? Can you still qualify for workers' compensation, for instance, if you have lost some of your hearing?

You may. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) understands that this is a very real hazard. They claim that around 30 million people work in environments where the noise level is considered hazardous.

To help combat this, OSHA has set certain limits on what employers can allow. For instance, for a worker who is putting in an eight-hour shift, the limit is 90 decibels (dBA). If the worker is exposed to sounds that are higher than 100 dBA, that is only permitted for two hours.

If your employer broke those regulations, it can strengthen your claim. Maybe you were exposed to noises that were louder than 100 dBA, and they lasted for four hours every day. Then, for five more hours -- the rest of your shift and an hour of overtime -- the noise levels were still at 90 dBA. That could cause serious hearing loss, especially if you're not provided with proper protective gear.

Cases like this can get complicated. Your employer may argue that you're exposed to high-level noise outside of work, for instance, trying to shift the blame. Hearing loss from work can be harder to prove than a specific accident. It's critical that you know all of your legal rights.

Source: FindLaw, "Can I Get Workers' Comp for Hearing Loss?," Le Trinh, accessed Oct. 19, 2017

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