If you’ve suffered hearing loss from work in Western Australia you may be entitled to a WorkCover claim, write TGB's Victoria Bell and Ben Smith.
If you’ve suffered hearing loss from work in Western Australia you may be entitled to a WorkCover claim, write TGB workers compensation lawyers Victoria Bell and Ben Smith.
The usual process in WA
Hearing loss claims in Western Australia are mostly automated. Workers employed in prescribed “noisy workplaces” must have a baseline hearing test within 12 months of commencing employment to establish their current level of hearing.
Employers are then encouraged to provide regular hearing tests throughout the course of the worker’s employment. The worker can also request subsequent hearing tests for which the employer is obliged to arrange and pay.
To be entitled to compensation in Western Australia, the minimum required work-related hearing loss must be 10%. This means that a test must show a 10% or greater loss of hearing compared with the baseline test undertaken at the start of employment. A worker who suffers from a 10% hearing loss will receive approximately $16,347.80. A worker who suffers from a 20% hearing loss will receive approximately $32,695.60.
Compensation cannot be claimed for noise induced hearing loss which occurred before March 1991.
I now live in another state – what about my claim?
In recent years many Australians relocated to WA pursuing work, for example, in the mining industry. However, as the “mining boom” and related industries decline these workers are returning to their home states in search of further employment.
For the purposes of a claim, hearing tests must be performed by testers approved by WorkCover WA. There is only one approved tester located in South Australia. You must pay for this test yourself. The cost, however, is minimal compared to the entitlements which may be available.
The approved tester uploads the test results to the WorkCover WA database. If the test shows a 10% or greater hearing loss as compared with the baseline test, WorkCover will notify the worker that they appear to suffer from a compensable hearing loss.
The worker must then undergo a full audiological assessment in WA. The worker must pay the cost of the assessment as well as any travel or accommodation.
The worker must then be assessed by an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist in WA. Again, WorkCover WA will not agree to fund the cost of the assessment or any travel expenses. The costs involved may not be small, so it pays to seek legal advice.
If the ENT report confirms a work-related hearing loss of 10% or more, WorkCover WA will send a claim form to the worker. Once this form is completed and returned to WorkCover WA, it will be forwarded to the employer for lodgement with their insurer within five working days.
Previously claimed for hearing loss under WA system, but suffer more?
If you have previously claimed for hearing loss under the WA workers compensation system, an additional hearing loss of 5% or more can be claimed if it can be attributed to work in WA.
It is important to get legal advice as a workers compensation settlement may affect your entitlement to Centrelink benefits or have implications relating to the Australian Taxation Office, Medicare, or your private health insurance fund.
If you have not made a claim in WA, please disregard this publication.
If your last form of noisy employment was located in South Australia, please contact Victoria Bell to discuss possible entitlements under SA workers compensation law.