The WCB accepts claims for work-related, noise-induced (noise-driven) hearing loss, but does not accept claims for age-related or non-work hearing loss or illness. Read more details about the guidelines the WCB uses when making decisions about hearing-loss injuries and find out what can cause hearing loss.
The Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) uses standard occupational medical guidelines, including those of the American Medical Association, for its decisions about hearing-loss injuries.
Hearing loss is multifactorial and can be caused by many things. Some causes are due to:
- exposure to loud noise (work related and non-work related)
- aging (presbycusis)
- head trauma
- ear infections
- virus or diseases
- malformation of the ear
The WCB accepts claims for occupational noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) and hearing loss from acoustic trauma when the appropriate criteria have been met.
- Only one out of five individuals with more than two years of continuous exposure to noise in excess of 85 dB for eight hours per day may go on to develop NIHL.
- NIHL develops the fastest in the first 10 – 15 years of exposure. The progression, once established will slow down.
- The progression of NIHL stops once the noise exposure is removed.
- Hearing loss is sensorineural (affecting the hair cells of the inner ear).
- Damage is bilateral and symmetrical (affecting both ears the same).
- Noise notch is evident in the high frequencies (3,000, 4,000 or 6,000 Hertz) with recovery obtained by 8,000 Hertz.
Frequently asked questions
- A: Minimum of two years of consecutive excessive occupational noise exposure in Saskatchewan. Noise exposure is considered excessive based on the following daily exposure:
- 85 dB for eight hours per day
- 91 dB for two hours per day
- 100 dB for 15 minutes per day
- Audiogram is consistent with NIHL medical facts as stated above.
- Predominant cause of hearing loss is from occupational exposure and not non-work related factors.
- A: Confirmed occupational exposure to a sudden traumatic event (such as loud explosion, basal skull fracture).
- Audiogram consistent with acoustic trauma hearing loss.
Applying for a claim
When completing the Noise Exposure Questionnaire, the following information must be included:
- Complete job history (all jobs must be included whether or not there was a component of noise exposure or the jobs were out of province).
- Job title and job duties (including all equipment/tools used and duration of use).
- The year hearing loss was first noted.
- Medical history (please do not leave any item blank).
- Any audiograms that have been taken (whether you have copies or not).
Audiograms (hearing tests)
Audiograms measure your hearing at low and high frequencies and will identify hearing loss.
The WCB suggests that you get a hearing test when you first start working and at regular periods from then on if you are exposed to occupational noise. It is important to complete a hearing test when you are no longer occupationally noise exposed (i.e., retired or had a change in career).