Industrial deafness isn’t the same as losing your hearing suddenly because of a loud noise or other physical injury.
If you’ve worked in a noisy environment for a long time it can cause hearing loss and you may be able to claim compensation.
A claim for industrial deafness is worked out differently to some other claims. We’ll explain this below.
Can I claim?
To make a claim you need to be considered a worker under the Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003.
If you don’t have a job at the moment but you usually would, or you’ve retired from work less than a year ago, you’re still able to claim.
As well as the above, you must also:
- be diagnosed with industrial deafness and have a work capacity certificate from your doctor confirming this
- have worked in a job for five years or more, where the noise was a factor in your hearing loss.
What happens if my claim is accepted?
Compensation for industrial deafness is in the form of a lump sum payment.
If your claim is accepted, WorkCover will send you to an audiologist (hearing specialist) to have your hearing assessed. This is to work out the extent of work-related long-term hearing loss you’ve experienced. The level of permanent damage that is applied to your injury is referred to as the degree of permanent impairment (DPI).
How much you’re compensated is based on the level of work-related hearing loss you’ve experienced.
WorkCover will make an offer of compensation to you based on the result of your assessment, taking into account exclusions like:
- any hearing loss that happened outside Queensland or while you were self-employed (if that applies)
- 5% of hearing loss that occurs naturally in a person’s life
- any hearing loss from previous assessments.
There is more information on how this is calculated in section 9 (Hearing) of the Guide to Evaluating Permanent Impairment (PDF, 2.05 MB)
If you agree with the assessment and offer, you can accept it and then claim again every three years if your hearing gets worse (with the same exclusions applied).
Accepting or rejecting the offer
It’s up to you whether you accept or reject the assessment and offer of compensation. There are things you need to think about when deciding, like whether or not you also want to claim damages (a common law claim). You may want to do this if you believe your hearing loss is the result of your employer being ‘at fault’.
You can only claim damages as well as accepting a lump sum if your DPI is 20% or more.
If your DPI is between 5% and 19%, you must choose either to accept the assessment and lump sum offer or claim damages.
If you don’t agree with the assessment you can:
- ask for an independent assessment. WorkCover can arrange this if they agree. If they don’t, you’ll be referred to the Medical Assessment Tribunal.
- ask to be assessed by the Medical Assessment Tribunal.
The Medical Assessment Tribunal (MAT) is administered by the Workers' Compensation Regulator and is made up of independent specialists who assess the DPI. Their decision is final and you can't appeal their decision.
If you’ve got questions or need more information, please call WorkCover on 1300 362 128. If your employer is self-insured, call their worker’s compensation department.