The use of a Blackberry cellphone that reportedly caused tinnitus has resulted in the payment of $1.2 Million in workers' compensation benefits.
Cell phone injuries have been linked medically by published studies. "The authors warn users of cell phones to look out for ear such as ear warmth, ear fullness, and ringing in the ears (tinnitus) as early warning signs of an auditory abnormality."
Tinnitus describes a condition of "ringing in the ears." Individuals often describe the sound as a hum, buzz, roar, ring, or whistle. The predominant cause of tinnitus is long-term exposure to high sound levels, though it can also be caused by short-term exposure to very high sound levels, such as gunshots. Non-acoustic events, such as a blow to the head, dietary issues, stress, jaw joint disorders, debris on the eardrum, or prolonged use of aspirin may also cause tinnitus.The inner ear or neural system produces the actual sound.
Exposure to excessive noise in the workplace has been recognized as a major health hazard, one that can impair not only a person's hearing, but also his physical and mental well-being. workplace first affects the ability to hear high-frequency or high-pitched sounds. Workers suffering from noise-induced hearing loss may also experience continual ringing in the ears, called "tinnitus". In addition, workers who are exposed to noise sometimes complain of nervousness, sleeplessness and fatigue.
Other cases have also been reported for workers' compensation benefits as a result of the use of a telephone. An injured worker was employed at New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company for approximately six years as a customer service representative who spoke with customers on the telephone. A pre-employment physical, which included a hearing test, demonstrates no hearing difficulties or other medical issues. During the course of her employment, renovations were conducted at the employer's office and she testified that she heard loud drilling and that her desk vibrated and she had difficulty hearing customers on the telephone. While medical evaluations reflected no statutory hearing loss pursuant to the form of the occupational Hearing Loss Act, the expert physician did recognize a 5% loss due to tinnitus. The trial judge concluded that the tinnitus disability was significant and distracted from the former efficiency of her ears and distracted from her ordinary pursuits of life. The reviewing Court held that tinnitus and supported by the appropriate proofs was a permanent partial disability and was compensable irrespective of whether the employee also suffers a hearing loss compensable under the OHLA. Schorpp-Replogle v. New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company, 395 N.J.Super. 277, 928 A.2d 885 (App. Div. 2007).