Workers in Minnesota should know that if they have hearing loss related to their jobs, they may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. In many lines of work, people are repeatedly exposed to loud noises for long periods of time. This is true on factory floors, in the military, in warehouses and at concert venues. Such exposure can have lasting consequences for workers’ quality of life. It’s important that they know their rights when it comes to occupational hearing loss.
Hearing loss and your rights
If someone develops hearing loss on the job, or their existing hearing loss worsens due to their work, they may have a valid workers’ compensation claim. There are guidelines for dangerous levels of noise on the job. For example, if people must shout to be heard, the work environment is probably too loud to be safe.
Workers’ compensation benefits are designed to replace some of the income for people who can no longer work due to on the job injury. Hearing loss is common for people who work with large machinery like planes or farm equipment. When people in those roles have lost their hearing, it can actually be dangerous for them to continue working. They may not be able to hear hazards approaching, or co-workers shouting a warning.
Not every job provides PPE to help protect workers’ hearing. And even in cases where hearing protection is provided, it may not be enough. In one recent case, earplugs provided to people in the military were found to be defective.
There are currently class-action lawsuits related to this winding their way through the courts.