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Workers' compensation: Tinnitus can be debilitating

Many workers in New Jersey are unaware of the damage their work environments cause to their hearing. Tinnitus is just one of the consequences of occupational noise exposure. Unfortunately, most victims of this condition only learn about it when the damage has already been done. Although severe tinnitus can be debilitating, proving it to be work-related for a workers' compensation claim can be challenging.

Safety authorities note that noise levels higher than 110 decibels are damaging, and exposure should not exceed one minute at a time. The decibel scale that is used to measure noise goes from zero to 140, and although louder noises cause the most damage in a shorter time, even noises measured from 80 to 85 can cause tinnitus if exposure lasts for an extended period. The damage caused by noise exposure may cause tinnitus later in life, and pinpointing the start can be difficult.

Tinnitus is a constant ringing in the ears that can prevent the victim from hearing other sounds correctly. Power saws and leaf blowers typically cause noises of 110 decibels while heavy machinery such as pneumatic drills, chainsaws, ambulance sirens and jet planes at their ramps expose workers to 120 decibels. Those who work with jackhammers or power drills are exposed to noise levels of 130 decibels, and employees who work around airplanes and jets taking off are at the highest risk because those noises measure 140 and 150 on the decibel scale.

Anyone who develops tinnitus due to noise exposure at the workplace may seek medical care and claim the costs from the workers' compensation insurance provider. It is always easier to pursue claims for visible injuries such as broken bones than for a condition that nobody can see. This is where the skills of an attorney who is experienced in dealing with the New Jersey workers' compensation program come in. A lawyer can provide the necessary support and guidance throughout the claims proceedings.

Source:, "Is your work causing tinnitus?", Accessed on March 27, 2018

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