OSHA pushes to expand definition of work-related hearing loss

If proposed clarifications to rules governing the reporting of work-related hearing loss become effective, more Texas workers might have access to workers’ compensation benefits. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed revisions to existing rules that could influence how many people can claim hearing loss as a workplace injury.


Current regulations create confusion about whether an employer needs to record a worker’s hearing loss if a noisy work environment only aggravated the condition. One rule declares that an employer does not need to report someone’s medical problem if a health care provider determined that the workplace did not significantly contribute to it. Another section, however, refers to an employer’s need to record an illness or injury even if on-the-job exposure only contributed to it.


A representative from the Laborers’ Health & Safety Fund of North America praised the safety administration’s effort to include workers whose hearing loss stemmed partially from their occupations. About 195,000 people suffered work-related hearing damage in 2015, but OSHA believes that many cases go unreported by employers.


When a person has an illness or injury that might take time to develop, asserting that the workplace caused the problem might be difficult. An attorney might provide support for a resulting workers’ compensation claim. Arrangements to gather medical evidence and testimony by independent experts might be made by an attorney to demonstrate the link between a medical problem and the job environment. In some cases, a lawsuit might present an alternative to an insurance claim. If workplace safety violations contributed to someone’s illness or injury, then an attorney might suggest creating a lawsuit against the employer instead.

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