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Industrial deafness and noise-induced hearing loss

Has your noisy workplace left you hard of hearing? Or your ears ringing?

If you have hearing loss or other issues, you’ll know that it can have a serious impact on your quality of life.

Work environment activities can cause hearing loss – for example, exposure to loud noises, loud machinery, driving a truck or wearing a phone headset.

These types of hearing issues are also known as industrial deafness or noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).

Hearing loss claims, or claims for industrial deafness compensation, are a form of workers compensation claim. However, these claims are specialised because they deal with sensory loss, often they develop over a significant period, and the medical knowledge in this area is unique.

What counts as hearing loss?

For most people who suffer from NIHL, the injury only gradually becomes obvious. It’s rare for a single event to cause damage to a person’s hearing, although it does happen.

Often, it’s the little things that start adding up. You may:

  • need the television or radio volume increasingly higher over time;
  • struggle to hear what others are saying;
  • find that you’re more dependent on lip-reading to understand other people; or
  • frequently ask others to repeat themselves.

If you think your work environment has caused your hearing issues, we recommend that you see us for legal advice as soon as possible, regardless of whether you:

  • are still working or retired;
  • have a severe or mild hearing loss;
  • are (or were) an employee, contractor, or volunteer; or
  • believe that a recent job caused the hearing loss, or one from many years ago, or a combination of jobs.

Because we offer an obligation-free first interview, you can find out whether you have a claim without any financial risk or commitment. Contact us today to make an appointment.

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What can I claim in hearing loss compensation?

You can claim compensation for:

  • Loss of hearing (as a lump sum payment)
  • Future medical expenses

ReturnToWorkSA is the insurer and authority that oversees the workers’ compensation scheme in South Australia. For hearing loss claims, it will pay for high-quality hearing aids, as well as battery and servicing costs, for the rest of your life.

How much will it cost to make a claim?

We offer a no win no fee arrangement for industrial hearing loss compensation claims.

If the insurer accepts your claim but will only pay for medical expenses (including hearing aids, batteries, and other associated costs), we won’t bill you. Only if you qualify for a lump sum payment will we send you a bill.

It may be necessary to get a medical report as part of the claim process, but ReturnToWorkSA will pay for this.

Our no win no fee arrangement gives you peace-of-mind that you can seek compensation without fear that you’ll be responsible for legal expenses if your claim is rejected.

Need advice? Just ask us a question

How long will it take to finalise my industrial deafness claim?

Most of our clients’ claims resolve within three to six months of the date of the claim.

There are no time limits in which to make a NIHL claim, but it’s a good idea to talk to us as soon as possible. Within the first two years of your retirement, the law presumes that your NIHL has arisen from your employment. It’s up to Return To Work SA or your employer to prove otherwise.

After the two year mark, you’ll need to prove that during your employment, you were exposed to noise capable of causing NIHL. Finding this evidence often becomes more difficult over time.

Frequently asked questions

We will need a report from an audiologist to show that you have hearing loss that’s consistent with noise exposure.

After your obligation free first interview (by phone or in person), we will arrange for you to attend a free appointment for an audiogram.

We’ll also need documents that show that you worked in noisy environments. They may include:

  • Tax returns
  • Superannuation records
  • Centrelink documents
  • Photographs of you at work
  • References or other certificates (for example, certificates of commendation)

At your obligation free first interview, we’ll discuss what evidence we need to prove your claim for hearing loss in the workplace.

If your work environment caused your tinnitus, it’s possible to claim medical expenses such as hearing aids. Hearing aids are used to mask the tinnitus.

If you also have NIHL, the insurer may accept a claim for tinnitus. This will likely increase the lump sum amount of industrial hearing loss compensation to which you’re entitled.

We’ll assist you with a claim for tinnitus if you also have NIHL. But please note that our no win no fee arrangements don’t apply to tinnitus injuries unless there is also a diagnosis of NIHL.

South Australian laws require that hearing loss claims are made against the most recent noisy workplace.

Once we’ve discussed your injury and seen your documents, we’ll work this out for you.

If your former employer has gone out of business, merged with another organisation, or for any other reason no longer exists, ReturnToWorkSA will take on liability for your claim.

In other words, it will be legally responsible for paying any compensation to which you’re entitled.

You can claim other types of workers compensation, even if you receive a lump sum compensation payment for industrial hearing loss.

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Hearing Loss team

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