Campaigners for workers suffering from occupational deafness protested yesterday against the Government's rigid compensation policy. The chairman of the Hong Kong Occupational Deafness Association, Wong Tam-kwai, described existing compensation procedures as inhumane. Workers who suffer from occupational deafness are required to file claims within a year of leaving their jobs. They also have to back up their claims with detailed work records and declarations signed by their bosses and co-workers. 'The time limit is too short and rigid. Many workers are confused by the complicated process and need time to collect documents,' Mr Wong said. 'Sometimes they miss the deadline by just a few days and still the Government refuses to accept their claims. 'In some cases, the workers' former employers are dead. They try to give the officials declarations from other parties, but the Government refuses to accept them. Their claims are then thrown out because they can't obtain a letter from a dead person.' Mr Wong said this system had resulted in the refusal of 40 association members' claims. In total, more than 1,700 deaf workers' claims had been turned down in the past six years, he said. 'It is so unfair. They have lost their working ability and can't get a penny because of the unreasonable demands.' Mr Wong said the root of the problem was the lack of representation for deaf workers on the Occupational Deafness Compensation Board. 'The board is set up to study the issue, yet no deaf worker can attend. The policy-makers are indifferent and ignorant of our problems.' Representatives of the association met officials from the Labour Department yesterday. A department spokesman said the Government had set up an independent policy review working group. The working group would consult different parties on how to improve the compensation scheme, she said.