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5.3.2 Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders - Table 7
The relevant Tables in Table 7 are:
- Table 7.1 – Hearing
- Table 7.2 – Miscellaneous Ear Nose and Throat Disorders
Hearing impairment under Table 7.1 must be distinguished from loss of the capacity to comprehend spoken language i.e. distinguish the ability to receive auditory signals from the ability to interpret such signals. Loss of hearing comprehension is assessed under Table 12.2 'Comprehension – Hearing and Reading'.
Tinnitus is included in Table 7.2 'Miscellaneous Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders' and should not be rated as a Hearing Loss under Table 7.1.
Loss of Hearing is discussed in detail later in this chapter .
WPI for Hearing Loss may be expressed in graduations less than 5%
WPI in Table 7.1, unlike the other tables in Part 2 Division 1of the Approved Guide, may be expressed in graduations of less than 5% because the WPI is half of the binaural percentage of hearing loss determined by medical examination.
If a hearing loss WPI is to be used in the Combined Values Chart at Part 2 Appendix 1, it will automatically be rounded up or down to a whole integer (0.5 will be rounded up). This would be a very rare occurrence following the Canute decision, as hearing loss that meets the definition of a discrete injury would be assessed separately from all other impairments sustained (the same applies to tinnitus).
Where the hearing loss occurred before 1 October 2001, as a matter of policy, a hearing loss WPI of 9.5% or greater will be accepted as meeting the 10% minimum impairment requirement in S24(7).
Where the hearing loss occurred on or after 1 October 2001, new S24(7A) provides that the threshold is a binaural hearing loss of 5% (2.5% WPI). If the Date of Injury is before 1 October 2001, but exposure to noise continues after that date, the client is entitled to compensation under the reduced threshold.
Deterioration of noise-induced hearing loss not compensable after discharge
Specialist medical advice indicates that noise-induced (sensori-neural) hearing loss will not continue to deteriorate once exposure to workplace noise has ceased. Accordingly, any deterioration in hearing after the date of discharge cannot be attributed to Defence employment and must arise from other factors such as the ageing process or further exposure to noise in civilian life. Note however that, in appropriate circumstances, deterioration in other forms of hearing loss that are not due to noise exposure (e.g. conductive deafness) may continue to be related to Defence employment after discharge.
Delegates should bear this specialist medical advice in mind when advising discharging or discharged members about any possible future entitlement to compensation for the permanent impairment of loss of hearing.
Delegates should also note that there will be the occasional case where the 'date first sought medical treatment' (i.e. the Date of Injury) was after the member left ADF employment. In such cases, where the date of injury is after the commencement of new hearing loss provisions on 1 October 2001, a 2.5% WPI threshold applies (the previous threshold was 10% WPI). In such cases, the delegate must be satisfied that the assessed hearing loss is due to noise exposure during military service and not exposure subsequent to discharge from the military.