Admiralty Maritime:

Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act

The Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA) covers employees in jobs that have a traditional relationship to maritime employment. The Act was passed by Congress in 1927 and allowed coverage to longshore employees working in navigable waters in which no state workers compensation law applied. In 1984, the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act was amended to give all longshore and harbor workers the same type of protection. Coverage under the Act depends on the location where the employee was working and whether the type of work had a relationship to maritime employment.

Coverage under the Act is clear with regard to employees engaging in activities such as unloading and loading a vessel, but becomes difficult when these duties are combined with shoreside activities away from the pier. In addition to workers unloading and loading cargos, support people are usually covered. It is not necessary that the employment duties take place on or near the water’s edge. For instance, a mechanic who becomes injured changing a tire on a forklift in a marine terminal is covered.

Other workers who may be covered under the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act include:

  • Truck drivers
  • Forklift operators
  • Crane operators
  • Gearlocker workers who maintain, repair, deliver and retrieve longshore equipment
  • Employees on fixed oil production platforms
  • Employees repairing or tearing down vessels in shipyards buildings