According to national occupational safety and health organizations like NIOSH and the CDC, around 22 million workers in the U.S. are exposed to hazardous noise levels each year, and another 30 million work with ototoxic chemicals that can damage their hearing. Overall, about 24% of hearing difficulty among the working population is attributed to occupational exposure, and more than 20,000 cases of workplace hearing loss occur every year, with many workers suffering permanent hearing loss. The construction industry ranks number two behind mining as the industry with the highest prevalence of hearing loss, and manufacturing ranks third. Sadly, more than one-third of workers report that they are not provided with hearing protection on the job.
New York personal injury attorney Leandros Vrionedes represents NYC construction workers and others throughout New York City who have been injured on the job through traumatic incidents or long-term exposure, including cases involving workers’ compensation claims, third-party liability, failure to provide personal protective equipment (PPE), and labor law violations under New York’s scaffold law. If you suffered hearing loss at work or due to another’s negligence in New York City, call the law office of Leandros A. Vrionedes, P.C., to discuss your potential claims.
Workers’ Compensation for Hearing Loss
Workers’ compensation for hearing loss covers medical treatment, including hearing aids, as well as schedule loss of use awards according to one’s percentage of loss. The burden falls on the worker to show the hearing loss is employment-related, which can be disputed by the employer or their workers’ comp insurance carrier. The worker must be examined by an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat doctor) certified by Worker’s Compensation Board.
Hearing loss can be traumatic or occupational. A traumatic ear injury can be caused by an explosion, a blow to the head or ear, or from being too close to a sudden loud noise, like a gunshot, for example. A traumatic injury is compensable as an on-the-job injury, meaning a worker has medical bills covered and receives wage replacement at two-thirds of the worker’s rate of pay. Workers have two years to file a workers’ compensation claim from the date of the traumatic event.
Occupational hearing loss comes from an occupational disease – an illness or condition associated with a particular occupation or industry. Occupational hearing loss can also come from working with or near ototoxins, which are chemicals such as industrial solvents or heavy metals that can cause hearing loss. A worker can file an occupational hearing loss claim after three months from the date the employee is removed from the harmful noise in the workplace or three months after leaving employment in which exposure to the harmful noise occurred. Being provided with protective gear can count as being removed from the harmful noise, so the clock starts running once that gear is provided. Workers have two years to file a claim plus an additional 90 days from the date they learned the hearing loss is employment-related, since it can take 90 days to get that determination from an ENT.
Hearing Loss on New York Construction Sites
As noted earlier, hearing loss is a common workplace injury on construction sites, and construction is the second-leading industry having the most workers who suffer from hearing loss. Construction workers as a group are routinely misclassified as independent contractors and excluded from workers’ comp coverage by real estate developers and contractors. To help fight this injustice, New York law has created a legal presumption that construction workers are employees and not independent contractors. The party trying to exclude the construction worker bears the burden of proving they aren’t actually employees.
Regardless of whether construction workers are covered by workers’ compensation or not, they may be able to recover compensation for hearing loss caused by a third party. Third-party liability applies whenever an accident or injury is caused by someone outside of the employment relationship. In a major construction project, one finds a multitude of unconnected parties coming and going through the construction site. Third parties who might be responsible for traumatic hearing loss on a construction site might include:
- Owners or operators of Large trucks and heavy machinery, such as dump trucks and earth movers
- Crane operators
- Demolition crews, including wrecking crews and explosive experts
Providers of defective safety equipment can also be held liable for hearing loss caused by their defective products. For example, the manufacturer 3M has been the subject of numerous lawsuits in recent years alleging their Combat Arms earplugs were defective and ineffective to prevent hearing loss.
After construction, manufacturing is the industry with the next-highest prevalence of hearing loss. Workers are exposed to loud noises daily as well as industrial accidents, creating risks of both traumatic and occupational hearing loss. After factory workers, occupational hearing loss is most prevalent among:
- Warehouse workers
Call New York Construction Accident and Industrial Accident Attorney Leandros A. Vrionedes for Help with Hearing Loss and Other Workplace Injuries
If you have suffered hearing loss as a result of a traumatic incident at work or long-term occupational exposure, in an explosion or car or truck accident, or for any reason attributable to the negligence of another, get help from a dedicated and successful New York personal injury lawyer by calling Leandros A. Vrionedes, P.C., at 212-889-9362 for a free consultation.