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Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, 1993 (Act No. 130 of 1993)

Circular Instructions

Circular Instruction No. 171 - Determination of Permanent Disablement resulting from Exposure to Excessive Noise and Trauma in Industry

1. Claims


The following instructions are issued to clarify the position in regard to claims for impairment of hearing:


1.1 An occupational disease due to excessive noise in industry, and


1.2 An occupational injury due to factors other than excessive industrial noise [head trauma (resulting from e.g. blows to the head), or acoustic trauma causing the immediate loss of hearing produced by one or more exposures to sudden intense forms of acoustic energy such as explosions, gunfire or blasts].

Such "accidents" may cause binaural (both ears) or monaural (one ear) impairment of hearing.


1.3 In loss of hearing "by accident" in either one or in both ears the impairment may be caused by either conductive loss when the middle ear is injured or by perceptive loss when the inner ear is injured or by a combination of both conductive and perceptive loss when both the middle and the inner ear are injured - the so-called "mixed deafness".


1.4 Impairment of hearing claimed to result from exposure to excessive noise in industry (occupational noise of an excessive nature) usually manifests itself over a number of years and results in binaural impairment of hearing.


1.5 The provisions of Section 65(4) of the Act referring to prescription shall be strictly applied with due regard to the provisions of Section 38 of the Act.


1.6 The date of the commencement of the disease shall be the date of the first audiogram showing an increase from the baseline in the percentage loss of hearing (PLH) by 10% or more. The PLH values are calculated using the results of the baseline audiogram and the diagnostic audiogram using the attached tables - Annexure A.


1.7 Persons to be submitted for compensation consideration would be:
Employees whose PLH has deteriorated by more than 10% PLH from the baseline audiogram; or
Employees who have more than 10% PLH and for whom no baseline is available (see section 5).


1.8 A medical opinion must be provided by either:
1.8.1 An ENT-specialist if the case is complicated or the degree of disablement is expected to exceed 15% (PLH > 30 % from baseline); or
1.8.2 An Occupational Medical Practitioner if the case is uncomplicated and the degree of disablement is expected to be 15% or less (PLH 30% from baseline).