What kinds of hearing loss are covered by workers' compensation?
WorkSafeBC accepts two kinds of hearing loss: those caused by traumatic injury and those caused by general exposure to workplace noise.
You can claim workers' compensation for either kind of hearing loss, as long as it is caused by an injury or exposure to noise at work. WorkSafeBC deals with these two types of hearing loss in different ways. They are explained below.
How does WorkSafeBC decide claims for hearing loss due to injury?
If you have an accident (traumatic injury) and you have hearing loss from it, WorkSafeBC decides the claim in the same way as for any injury at work. You can get:
- wage loss benefits (temporary total and/or partial disability);
- health care benefits, including a hearing aid;
- vocational rehabilitation assistance (including possible worksite modification or assistance in getting a new job, if required); and/or
- a permanent disability pension.
How much compensation will I receive for traumatic hearing loss?
If you are temporarily unable to work, WorkSafeBC will decide on temporary wage loss benefits in the same way as for any other injury at work. Please read the Factsheet called Wage Loss Benefits.
If you have permanent hearing loss, WorkSafeBC will give you a permanent disability award. The award is based on the WorkSafeBC Permanent Disability Evaluation Schedule. The maximum award, for total traumatic hearing loss – greater than 80 decibels (dB) in both ears – is 30 per cent of total disability. Partial losses of hearing in one or both ears give rise to lesser awards.
Gradual Exposure to Noise (Noise-induced Hearing Loss)
How does WorkSafeBC decide claims for hearing loss due to noise exposure?
In order for WorkSafeBC to accept your claim for noise-induced hearing loss:
- you must have a medical diagnosis of hearing loss due to noise (sensori-neural); and
- your work must have involved a continuous work exposure to noise levels averaging above 85 dBA (noise in decibels) for 8 or more hours per day for at least two years; and
- there must be no evidence that your hearing loss relates to causes other than your work.
If you have hearing loss due to noise levels lower than the required 85 dBA, your claim may be accepted if you can provide evidence that the noise exposure at work caused your hearing loss due to your vulnerability to hearing loss.
WorkSafeBC does not generally compensate for any hearing loss that occurs after the exposure to noise at work has ended.
What if my hearing loss is partly due to other causes?
If WorkSafeBC decides that your hearing loss is partly due to other causes, they will use a table to decide the percentage of disability that relates to your work. The table estimates the average hearing loss expected from a given exposure to noise in the workplace.
How much compensation will I receive for hearing loss?
WorkSafeBC does not normally pay wage loss benefits for noise-induced hearing loss. You can receive other benefits such as hearing aids, vocational rehabilitation, and a permanent disability award.
The amount of disability award you receive depends on the amount of your hearing loss. However, the amount will differ from the amount that you would receive for traumatic hearing loss, and may be lower. The award is assessed according to Schedule 2 of the Workers Compensation Act.
Non-Traumatic Hearing Loss (Exposure to Noise)
Percentage of Total Disability
|Loss of Hearing in Decibels||Ear Most Affected||Ear Least Affected|
|0 - 27dB||0%||0%|
|28 - 32||0.3||1.2|
|33 - 37||0.5||2.0|
|38 - 42||0.7||2.8|
|43 - 47||1.0||4.0|
|48 - 52||1.3||5.2|
|53 - 57||1.7||6.8|
|58 - 62||2.1||8.4|
|63 - 67||2.6||10.4|
|68 or more||3.0||12.0|
For hearing loss in one ear only you will receive a smaller disability award. If you have hearing loss in both ears, the disability for each ear is established separately and then added together.
A loss of 28 dB (decibels) in both ears would result in an award of 1.5 percent of total disability (0.3 percent plus 1.2 percent).
A loss of 40 dB in one ear, and 35 dB in the other ear would result in 0.7 percent disability for the ear most affected (40 dB) and 2.0 percent disability for the ear least affected (35 dB), for a combined award of 2.7 percent of total disability.
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is ringing in the ear that is continuous or persistent. WorkSafeBC may accept tinnitus if it results from a work injury or occupational noise.
Can I get workers' compensation for tinnitus?
WorkSafeBC policy does not normally allow compensation for tinnitus by itself. However, if you have tinnitus with a hearing loss of a least 28 dB in one ear, WorkSafeBC may provide compensation if the tinnitus impairs your ability to work.
What if I disagree with a decision?
If you do not agree with the WorkSafeBC decision, you have the right to request a review. You must request a review within 90 days. If you disagree with the Review Division decision you have 30 days to file an appeal to the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal.
This factsheet has been prepared for general information purposes. It is not a legal document. Please refer to the Workers Compensation Act and the Rehabilitation Services and Claims Manual Volume I and Volume II for purposes of interpretation and application of the law.