Covered employees who may experience occupational deafness, i.e., compensable hearing loss, are generally those employees who are exposed to harmful noise while at work. This could include police officers, firefighters, or factory workers, to name a few.
A covered employee who suffers from occupational deafness is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. In order to determine whether a covered employee suffers from occupational deafness, the covered employee must go through audiometric testing to determine thresholds of hearing, in decibels, for the frequencies of 500, 1,000, 2,000, and 3,000 hertz. If the average hearing loss in the four frequencies is 25 decibels or less, then the covered employee does not have compensable hearing loss. If the average hearing loss in the four frequencies is 91.7 decibels or more, then the covered employee has 100% compensable hearing loss. If the average hearing loss in the four frequencies is more than 25 decibels, but less than 91.7 decibels, the covered employee is entitled to compensation that is determined by the Commission.
The covered worker’s employer is liable for the full extent of the occupational deafness of a covered employee is the employment of the covered employee by the employer has contributed to any extent to the occupational deafness of the covered employee, and the employer is otherwise liable. An employer, however, is only liable for the part of the deafness attributable to the employment by the employer if the employer can establish, by competent evidence, including the results of a professionally controlled hearing test, the extent of the deafness of the covered employee that existed before exposure to harmful noise in the employment of the employer. The employer has the ability to implead any other employer in a case of occupational deafness if the covered employee was exposed to harmful noise while employed with the other employer.