Hearing loss can occur when one is exposed to sound levels greater than 85 decibels. Hearing loss in the workplace is a compensable disease, as per the terms set out in Schedule 3 of the Compensation for Occupation Injuries and Disease Act (COID).
photo credit to "Hidden Hearing"
What industrial tests are available?
The Hearing Institute provides a range of industrial hearing tests. These include:
Baseline hearing tests
Baseline hearing tests are carried out on workers after a noise-free period in the first thirty days of employment.
Periodic hearing screeningAll workers should undergo medical surveillance, as per the Mine Health and Safety Act (MHSA). As part of this medical surveillance, workers are entitled to hearing tests to check their hearing function and to identity any damage to their hearing over time. Those who work in conditions where they are exposed to noise levels of over 85 decibels should have hearing tests at least once a year, while those who are exposed to noise levels above 105 decibels should be tested every six months. If a worker's hearing worsens by 10 percent after a baseline test, diagnostic testing is required.
Diagnostic testingDiagnostic testing can be conducted when a worker has been in a noise-free area for at least 24 hours. An audiologist performs two tests to confirm that the worker's hearing has deteriorated by ten percent.
Ref: SIMRAC Handbook of Occupational Health practice in the South African Mining industry
How do compensation claims work?If a worker has been exposed to noise above 85 decibels, has been injured in the workplace, or has experienced at least 10 percent hearing loss since his or her baseline test, he or she can claim for compensation. In order to submit a compensation claim, the worker must submit a number of documents. These include:
- An employer's report of the disease or injury
- A service record
- Two consistent audiograms (as per the diagnostic testing)
- A copy of the worker's ID signed by his or her audiologist
- A medical report clearly stating if the hearing loss is occupational or not, submitted by a medical practitioner if the worker's hearing loss is less that 30 percent
- Two baseline hearing tests