Many people mentally associate workers’ compensation benefits with traumatic injuries. There is no question that someone who suffers a crushing accident because of a forklift in a warehouse should receive workers’ compensation. However, not all injuries acquired because of work are the result of a single, dramatic event.
Exposure to very loud noises or high or low-pitched sounds could have implications for your hearing, especially if you have repeated exposure for an extended amount of time. Workers in factories and industrial facilities, airport employees and even those who work at live music performance venues could easily suffer permanent hearing loss because of noise exposure on the job.
Can workers who lose their hearing on the job claim workers’ compensation benefits in Iowa?
Iowa has thorough policies for work-related hearing loss
While most injuries a worker can suffer get painted with a broad brush under Iowa’s workers’ compensation law, hearing loss is different. In fact, the state’s law on workers’ compensation has a special section that addresses hearing loss specifically. The state has thorough and specific protections for those who lose some or all of their hearing because of their job.
Exactly what a worker can receive will depend on whether they had any pre-existing hearing loss. It will also depend on how severe their hearing loss is. The most severe cases, which involve total loss of hearing, will result in a worker receiving up to 175 weeks of compensation, which is just over three years of benefits. Workers with lower levels of hearing loss may receive fewer weeks of compensation.
To receive benefits for hearing loss, workers have to undergo specific testing. The state requires both physical examinations and audiometric exams. These examinations help validate the hearing loss and determine if someone’s condition worsens or improves.
What should you do if you have work-related hearing loss?
The first step when you suspect hearing loss related to your job is to report your concerns to your employer. They can then start the necessary internal paperwork to have your hearing examined.
Sometimes, you may find out about hearing loss because of an appointment with your primary care physician. Whether you noticed the symptoms yourself or do two statements made by your doctor, advising your employer and asking for additional testing can be the first step toward getting workers’ compensation benefits for your hearing loss.