What is 3M Hearing Loss Claims Alleging?
The lawsuits accuse 3M of designing faulty earplugs and of failing to warn about the potential health risks involved with using the products. 3M produced dual-ended Combat Earplugs Version 2 (CAEv2) and sold them to the U.S. military; these earplugs were then distributed to service members in combat and training.
Plaintiffs allege that the stem of the 3M earplugs was too short for service members to insert the plug deep enough into the ear canal to obtain a proper fit. This caused the plug to loosen and not provide adequate protection, according to the lawsuits.
Related Article: 3M Earplug Litigation Update
What Classifies as Hearing Loss?
A person who is not able to hear as well as someone with normal hearing – hearing thresholds of 20 dB or better in both ears – is considered to have hearing loss. Hearing loss may be mild, moderate, severe, or profound.
What are the 4 Types of Hearing Loss?
The four types of hearing loss are:
- Sensorineural - Permanent hearing loss caused by damage to the inner ear or the nerve from the ear to the brain.
- Conductive - Hearing loss that occurs when sounds cannot get through the outer and middle ear. It may be hard to hear soft sounds and louder sounds may be muffled.
- Mixed (sensorineural and conductive) - In some patients, conductive hearing loss happens at the same time as sensorineural hearing loss. This means that there may be damage in the outer or middle ear and in the inner ear or nerve pathway to the brain. This is considered a mixed hearing loss.
- Auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder (ANSD) - Hearing problem in which the ear detects sound normally, but has a problem sending it to the brain.
Is Hearing Loss Considered a Disability for Work?
Hearing loss is considered a disability under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) if any of the following conditions are met:
- It substantially limits a major life activity
- It has substantially limited a major life activity in the past; or
- An employer regards or treats the individual as if the hearing loss is substantially limiting.
What Qualifies as Legally Deaf?
A legally deaf person can only hear sounds at 81 dB (traffic) to 100 dB (industrial noise). With severe hearing loss, you need sounds to be between 61 dB (normal speech) and 80 dB.
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