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OSHA proposes rule revision for work-related hearing loss

Louisiana employer representatives may not be happy with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's proposal to revise a rule associated with determining whether or not an employee's hearing loss can be considered job-related. The proposed change would require employers to record hearing loss even if work was not a substantial contributor.

Under OSHA rules, an employee's hearing loss does not have to be recorded if it is determined that the hearing loss was not caused by work or if it was not "significantly aggravated" by work site noise by a medical professional. In another section, however, the rule states that employers must consider hearing loss to be work-related if a work-related event or exposure contributed or aggravated the worker's condition. OSHA stated that the revision to the rule would simply clarify what is and isn't considered to be work-related.

The Coalition for Workplace Safety disagreed that the rule revision and the general record-keeping requirements are the same. The coalition requested that OSHA stop the hearing loss proposal. If OSHA wishes to pursue the change, the coalition argued that the provision should be its own rule.

An employee who suffers hearing loss due to a workplace accident may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits. If the worker's claim is denied, however, an attorney may help the worker make an appeal. The lawyer could help the client by gathering the evidence that shows that exposure or a work-related accident caused the hearing loss. They may also initiate the appeals process and help prepare the worker's case for mediation.

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