Federal Coverage Demands for Non-Seamen Employed on Waterways

The federal government plays a part in protecting the employees across the nation, whether they work on land or sea. The United States Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Acts is applicable to maritime employees whose primary place of employment is maritime water that is in or adjacent to the United States. This act usually renders these employees ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits at the state level, nor are they eligible for coverage under the Merchant Marine Act or the Jones Act. These individuals are not considered seamen.

Filling the Coverage Gap

The USL&H requirements for coverage exclude:

  • Sailors
  • Seamen
  • Masters and crews of any ship, vessel, or watercraft

These individuals are eligible through the other maritime laws and acts, and without the USL&H, those who work to build or repairs vessels and load and unload them would be left without coverage. The requirements of the act extend protection to those who perform an operation on or over navigable waters, including harbor workers, ship repair personnel, shipbuilders, harbor and longshore workers, and shipbreakers. Areas of operations could be a dry dock, terminal, pier, wharf, marine railway, or facility used to build, repair, or load ships.

Failing to provide compensation to an injured employee covered by the USL&H requirements could lead to heavy fines, a misdemeanor conviction, and time in jail. The entire company could face litigation, costing millions in defense costs.