I was asked recently by a client whether a loss of hearing is a workers compensation case in the State of Illinois. The answer is yes, depending on the hearing loss and the amount of noise he is exposed to at work. Under Section 8(e) 16 of the Illinois Workers Compensation Act, a loss of hearing for compensation purposes is confined to the frequency of 1000, 2000 and 3000 decibels per second. A loss of hearing for frequency tones above 3000 decibels per second and under 1000 decibels are not recoverable. In other words, hearing loss cases are recoverable only if there is a loss within a specific range. Obviously, testing has to be performed by an audiologist to determine the loss in the particular frequencies.
To determine whether a worker has a compensable claim, he must experience an average loss in excess of 30 decibels. The hearing test will determine what loss the worker has suffered over the 30-decibel benchmark in 1000, 2000, 3000 cycles per second. The numbers are then added together and averaged out. You would then subtract the baseline of 30 decibels from that number. For example, assuming that the hearing loss in the right ear is measured at 42, 41 and 55. You would add the numbers together and average them out. In this case, the average loss would be 46. You would then subtract the baseline of 30 decibels from the 46 and arrive at a hearing loss of 16 decibels. You would times them by 1.82% and you would arrive at a hearing loss of 29.12%.
Besides showing that you have suffered a hearing loss, the worker must show that the loss is related to the work activity and that he has been exposed to a certain level of noise for a period of time. This normally requires testing in the facility where the worker had been working.
Certain industries have a higher risk of hearing losses. They are agriculture, mining, construction, manufacturing and utilities.
If you are working at one of the above facilities, please inquire immediately whether they do testing to determine the level of exposure that you are being subject to in the workplace. If you are subject to a level of noise over a period of time than you would likely have a compensable claim. If you have any questions, you should contact your attorney to discuss this matter.