Longshoremen and harbor workers in California are exposed to constant risks and often work under extremely hazardous conditions. Even if the pay is good, workers risk injury from slips and falls, heavy lifting and loading, dangerous machinery or chemical exposure.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), fatal injuries among longshoremen and harbor workers were five times higher than the overall workforce in the United States from 2011 to 2017. Injuries to workers in terminals and port operations were double the national average during that same time period as well.
Are there federal protections for longshoremen?
The Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act (LHWCA) offers federal protection for longshoremen who are hurt on the navigable waters of the United States. This law not only offers compensation and medical care for the injured, it also provides vocational rehabilitative services for those who are disabled from accidents that occurred on the job, as well as survivor benefits for work injuries that caused or contributed to the death of an employee.
The LHWCA excludes workers already covered by state worker’s compensation laws as well as seamen, U.S. government employees and employees whose injuries were the result of intoxication, self-harm or harm to others.
There are also laws that extend many of the same worker’s compensation protections to longshoremen and harbor workers who are working outside of the United States:
- The Defense Base Act (DBA) covers employees working for either military purposes, for the benefit of the United Services Organizations, or for public work contracts with any U.S. government agency, including service contracts for national defense or for war activities.
- The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) provides protections for employees working in the exploration and development of natural resources.
- The Non-Appropriated Fund Instrumentalities Act (NAFIA) covers civilian employees of the Armed Forces.
For harbor workers in California and Los Angeles who have been injured on the job, it makes sense to find out more about your rights by first seeking experienced legal counsel knowledgeable in maritime law before signing a settlement offer from an insurance company.
Longshoremen should know that they have the right to pursue claims if they have been injured or fallen ill due to the negligence of the employer. If the injury was caused by defective equipment, a safety violation or negligence of a third party, it may be possible to also receive additional compensation through a liability claim.