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Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act, an overview

The Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act is enforced by the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs for the benefit of maritime employees. All workers employed in maritime occupations, like shipbuilders, ship repairers and other harbor workers, as well as workers engaged in related jobs, are covered under this act.

The act provides for compensation to be paid by an employer to an employee for any injury or disability caused by an accident that takes place on navigable U.S. waters or adjoining areas that are used for loading, unloading, repairing and building vessels. In the event of the fatality of any employee, the act provides for compensation to be paid to the individual's dependents. Compensation is also provided if the employee suffers from any occupational disease.

The act does not cover masters or crew members of a vessel. Officers or employees of the federal or state government or the government of any other foreign country are also excluded. Employees who are covered under any other workers' compensation legislation are also excluded from coverage by the act.

The amount of compensation awarded depends on the employee's average weekly wage and is subject to certain maximum and minimum amounts. The surviving spouse of a deceased employee is entitled to half of the deceased employee's average weekly wage. Additional amounts are paid if the deceased is survived by children. A disabled employee is entitled to two-thirds of the average weekly wage. Apart from compensation, eligible employees are also entitled to reimbursement of accident-related medical expenses.

It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that payments under this act are made on time. The employer may either obtain insurance to cover LHWCA payments from one of the insurance companies authorized to provide LHWCA insurance or the employer may obtain permission from the Department of Labor to self-insure and thus fulfill the obligations under the act.

The act prohibits the employer from discharging or in any manner discriminating against an employee who has filed an application claiming compensation under the act.

Source: United States Department of Labor, "Health Benefits, Retirement Standards, and Workers' Compensation: Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation," accessed May 8, 2015.

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