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Established in 1985, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal (WSIAT) is the final level of appeal to which workers and employers may bring disputes concerning workplace safety and insurance matters in Ontario. WSIAT has always been separate from and independent of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.

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  Decision 1059 15
6/3/2015
S. Martel

  • Hearing loss
  • Medical opinion (hearing loss) (testing procedures)

The worker appealed a decision of the Appeals Resolution Officer denying entitlement for noise-induced hearing loss.
An audiogram from 1992, shortly before the worker stopped working, indicated hearing loss of 32.5 decibels in the right ear and 21.25 decibels in the left ear. This was below the threshold in Board policy of a minimum 22.5 decibels in each ear.
The audiologist took both air conduction and bone conduction measurements, and used the bone conduction measurements for frequencies when the two measurements differed. If the air conduction measurements were used, the hearing loss would have been 32.5 decibels in the right ear and 25 decibels in the left ear.
Board policy is silent regarding use of air conduction or bone conduction measurements. A Tribunal medical discussion paper states that, in pure sensorineural hearing loss, air conduction and bone conduction thresholds should be the same. In pure conductive hearing loss, bone conduction thresholds will be better that air conduction. In mixed hearing loss, elements of both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss are present. When air conduction thresholds are better than bone conduction, there is usually an exaggerated hearing loss present.
In this case, there worker had sensorineural hearing loss. There was no suggestion in any of the medical reports of a conductive element to the hearing loss. Thus, the air conduction thresholds can be used. Further, the difference between the air and bone conduction thresholds was not very significant.
Using the air conduction thresholds, the Vice-Chair concluded that the worker met the requirements of Board policy for hearing loss of at least 22.5 decibels in each ear. The appeal was allowed.