Court sides with former shipwright in WCB battle over hearing loss
Ruling finds criteria used to deny initial claim contrary to Workers' Compensation Act
A retired shipwright has won a two-year battle with Nova Scotia's Workers' Compensation Board over compensation for his hearing loss.
Lloyd Surette worked on vessels for more than half a century in shipyards around the province. It was noisy work and eight years after he retired, Surette had his hearing tested.
According to a Nova Scotia Court of Appeal decision released Friday, Surette's audiogram from Nov. 26, 2015, found he had "sensorineural hearing loss bilaterally" and it was recommended he get two hearing aids.
Surette filed a claim for noise-induced hearing loss.
No one disputed his hearing loss was due to his work. However, the hearing-loss adjudicator who looked at his case ruled he didn't meet the criteria set down by the Workers' Compensation Board, which required audiograms to support a claim be done within five years of leaving the noisy workplace.
Surette had missed that mark by three years. He appealed the decision, but the officer hearing the appeal agreed with the original adjudicator.
Surette then took his case to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal. In its ruling, the court said the five-year rule was wrong.
"It imposes a limitation on the entitlement to compensation for a specific type of occupational disease, i.e., noise-induced hearing loss, which is contrary to the express provisions of the [Workers' Compensation] Act," Justice David Farrar wrote for the three-member panel.
Surette did get hearing aids, but paid for them himself after he was denied compensation by the board. The ruling did not give direction on Surette being compensated for his out-of-pocket expenses on the hearing aids.