Work-related hearing loss in the NSW workers compensation system

SIRA is conducting a review into services to support people with work-related hearing loss in the NSW workers compensation system.

  • The Issue

    Consultation period: 28/08/2019 4:00 pm to 09/10/2019 11:59 pm


    The State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) is conducting a review into services to support people with hearing loss arising out of employment (work-related hearing loss) in the NSW workers compensation system. The purpose of this consultation is to invite feedback. There are consultation questions posed to guide stakeholders’ submissions, however all feedback is welcome. The findings from this public consultation will inform SIRA’s review of service delivery for people who have a claim or potential claim for workers compensation because the hearing loss is due to their employment and any subsequent recommendations.


    SIRA is the NSW government organisation responsible for regulating workers compensation insurance and related activities, motor accidents compulsory third party (CTP) insurance, and home building compensation in NSW.

    In stewarding these schemes, it is our mission to ensure they are:

    • equitable and fair
    • efficiently delivered
    • affordable for the community
    • sustainable and viable for generations to come
    • delivering scheme outcomes effectively
    • providing positive experiences.

    The workers of NSW must have confidence they will receive fair treatment from the workers compensation system. We aim to ensure policy holders and people who experience injury and loss are provided with fair, timely, respectful, inclusive and appropriate services.

    Why is SIRA doing this?

    A review of research evidence indicates that hearing aids are effective for improving listening ability and quality of life for people with work-related hearing loss. Best results are achieved when an individual assessment of the worker’s hearing loss and their needs is performed, and a hearing aid is prescribed based on these factors. Significantly, uptake and compliance with hearing aids improves when the hearing aid is delivered to the worker together with support, training, counselling and auditory rehabilitation, resulting in better communication outcomes and improved participation in social activities.

    Stakeholders have raised concerns with SIRA about the process of claiming for work-related hearing loss. The issues stakeholders have been discussing with SIRA relate to the following areas:

    • current pathways for a worker to receive a hearing aid
    • access to legal funding to make a work-related hearing loss claim
    • the methodology used to assess work-related hearing loss and to determine if hearing loss is not caused by work
    • the provision of appropriate hearing aids and supports to meet an individual worker’s needs
    • cost-effective support for people with work-related hearing loss.

    The review will allow for a systematic approach to understand concerns from across the sector including the experience of injured workers. The overall objective of this review is to simplify the process for making a claim for work-related hearing loss, and have a system that delivers good claimant experience, operates efficiently and effectively.

    As part of this review SIRA will also be conducting research to understand the claims experience and outcomes for people making a hearing loss claim in the workers compensation system.

    How you can get involved

    SIRA has opened this consultation to assist individuals and organisations to prepare submissions. A PDF version is available below.

    Consultation stagesKey dates
    Consultation opens28 August 2019
    Consultation closes9 October 2019
    Summary of submissions25 October 2019

    Consultation questions

    SIRA is specifically interested in your feedback to the consultation questions below, but please do not restrict your feedback to those questions. As part of your submission, SIRA requests that you complete the demographic questions, which will allow us to ensure the public consultation has reached all interested stakeholders. Submissions will be received in writing or via email, as well as through the consultation page on the SIRA website.

  • Milestones

    Consultation stagesKey dates
    Consultation opens28 August 2019
    Consultation closes9 October 2019
    Summary of submissions25 October 2019
  • Outcomes

    Key insights from this review:

    • there is a lack of awareness of entitlements for work related hearing loss
    • the claims pathway is complex and can lead to delays in hearing aid provision
    • hearing aids can be effective and promote participation
    • fees orders, hearing aid costs and inclusions should be reviewed and
    • there is evidence of close working relationships between some audiologists and legal firms.

    Public consultation:

    SIRA thanks all respondents who took the time to make a submission to the Work-related hearing loss in the NSW workers compensation system consultation. We received a total of 26 submissions from a range of stakeholder groups including individuals, hearing service providers, peak body groups, insurers and legal providers. Submissions are listed below.

    Rapid Review

    A review of the research evidence relating to the assessment and treatment of occupational noise-induced hearing loss was conducted by the John Walsh Centre for Rehabilitation Research.

    Read this report

    Qualitative research

    The perspective of workers with a work-related hearing loss claim was explored in a series of interviews conducted by the Social Research Centre, an independent social research agency commissioned by SIRA.

    Read this report 

    Next steps:

    SIRA is currently developing a plan that ensures the system works efficiently and effectively, simplifies the process for making a claim for work-related hearing loss and delivers good claimant experience and outcomes.

    At the same time, in response to submissions to the review, the Workers Compensation Independent Review Officer will further consider the Independent Legal Assistance and Review Service (ILARS) Hearing Aid Claims Policy, in consultation with SIRA, legal practitioners and other interested parties.

    View the submissions here

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