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OSHA proposes changes to hearing loss rules

New Jersey residents may be interested to learn about a recent OSHA proposal regarding hearing loss on the job. This proposal would clarify that hearing loss must be considered work-related if work played a role in contributing to it. This would be true even if work wasn't a substantial contributor to the hearing loss. The revision is one of 18 proposed as part of OHSA's Standard Improvements Project-Phase IV.

Based on injury and illness reporting logs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there were 195,000 cases of workplace hearing loss in 2015. OSHA says that a revision to current hearing loss rules would be consistent with guidance issued in 2012. In that guidance, employers were told that any contribution by work to hearing loss makes it a work-related case.

The Coalition for Workplace Safety, an employer organization, sent a letter to OSHA saying that there should be a difference between hearing loss and workplace injury reporting guidelines. It pointed to an OSHA statement from 2002 that said it was inappropriate to presume that hearing loss is related to work if employees work in noisy environments. The group asked OSHA to make hearing loss guidelines a standalone rule if it wanted to pursue a change in policy.

Anyone who is a victim of a workplace accident may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits. Such benefits may help to replace a portion of an injured worker's salary and cover medical bills related to a workplace injury. Benefits may be granted on either a temporary or permanent basis depending on the circumstances of the case. Injured workers who need help getting the compensation they deserve may wish to talk with an attorney. Legal counsel may review the case and take steps to compel payment from the employer's workers' compensation insurance company.

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