Industrial deafness is the loss of hearing caused by working in a noisy environment over a period of time. It's different to hearing loss that is the result of a single event.
To make an industrial deafness claim, a worker must:
- provide a work capacity certificate that diagnoses industrial deafness
- make the claim while they are:
- considered a worker under the Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003
- temporarily unemployed, but would normally be considered a worker, or
- within 12 months of formal retirement
- have been employed for at least five years in an employment where the noise level was a significant contributing factor to the industrial deafness.
If a claim is accepted
If a claim for industrial deafness is accepted, WorkCover will organise for the worker to attend a hearing assessment with an audiologist to calculate the degree of permanent impairment (DPI). This is the impairment from the work-related hearing loss – it does not include any impairment that is not work-related.
A worker whose whose claim for industrial deafness is accepted may be entitled to lump sum compensation. A worker will not be entitled to weekly compensation or reimbursement of medical expenses.
WorkCover will make an offer of lump sum compensation through a notice of assessment, which outlines the percentage of hearing loss due to work plus the lump sum compensation amount.
WorkCover’s offer of lump sum compensation is calculated via the following steps:
- The impairment is reduced to exclude any hearing loss caused outside Queensland or when the worker was self-employed (if applicable).
- 5% is deducted because there is no entitlement for compensation for this proportion of hearing loss, due to the natural reduction of a person’s hearing throughout their lifespan.
- Any previous assessments are deducted so that a worker does not receive compensation more than once for the same impairment.
- The permanent impairment (hearing loss) is converted to a whole person impairment (WPI) assessment using the Guide to Evaluating Permanent Impairment (section 9 deals with Hearing, specifically the Relationship of binaural hearing impairment to WPI). The WPI is then converted to a DPI which excludes any impairment that is not work-related.
- The DPI assessment is used to calculate your lump sum compensation.
If a worker agrees with the assessment, they can accept the offer.
Once the claim has been accepted, a worker can make a claim every three years from the date the first claim was lodged. The percentage of hearing loss assessed in the first claim will be deducted from the assessment of subsequent claims.
Making a decision to accept or reject the assessment
This is an important decision. If a worker needs help making a decision about the assessment, WorkCover recommends obtaining independent advice.
When making the decision to accept the offer, a worker needs to consider whether they wish to claim damages in relation to the injury. Where the DPI is more than 5% but less than 20%, there are two options: either to accept the lump sum offer or to claim damages. Where the DPI is greater than 20%, a worker can accept the lump sum offer and also seek damages.
If a worker disagrees with this assessment, there are two options:
- A worker can ask to be assessed by another expert. If WorkCover agrees, they will arrange this as soon as possible. If WorkCover does not agree, a referral will be made to the Medical Assessment Tribunal, or
- A worker can ask to be assessed by the Medical Assessment Tribunal.
The Medical Assessment Tribunal (MAT) is administered by the Workers' Compensation Regulator and is a panel of independent specialists who assess the degree of permanent impairment. The MAT's decision is final and a worker cannot appeal their decision.
WorkCover can be contacted on 1300 362 128 for more information. Workers whose employer is licensed as a self-insurer, can contact the relevant workers’ compensation unit to discuss.
- Last updated
- 14 June 2019