Forensic Acoustics

Forensic acoustics incorporates the application of physics and physiology to resolve legal issues, in addition to research and regulatory topics such as hearing conservation, and formulation of codes and standards.

  • Product liability
  • Materials sciences
  • Codes and Standards
  • Hearing conservation
  • Evaluating alleged occupational hearing loss
  • Land use planning and noise impacts on property
  • Predicting audibility of conversations and of warning signals

Case Study: Newspaper Plants Saved from Fraudulent Workers' Compensation Claims

An NCAC member was asked to investigate a sudden rash of apparent hearing losses that had developed at two newspaper plants. Were the drivers exposed to noise levels which were so high as to cause permanent, compensable loss of hearing?

The NCAC member-firm was asked to investigate, and to determine employee noise exposures. The relatively low levels of exposure found for the claimants prompted the firm to ask for a sample of audiograms of the claimants for further analysis. Were the hearing thresholds consistent with known effects of noise exposure?

The final outcome:

One test case was brought before a Worker Compensation Judge for adjudication. After many hours of testimony the judge dismissed not only the test case, he also dismissed the remaining claims, finding them fraudulent. The acoustician had uncovered numerous irregularities in the claims, and the employer filed a civil action against the employees, their attorneys, and the physician who examined them. Under such circumstances, the Racketeering In Corrupt Organizations (RICO) laws allow a successful plaintiff to recover treble damages, as a result of defendants' unlawful conduct.