Longshore Act

Longshore Injuries

The Longshore Act (LHWCA or Longshore Act) is a workers’ compensation program administered by the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP).  The Act provides for compensation and medical care to employees disabled from injuries that occur on the navigable waters of the United States, or in adjoining areas used in loading, unloading, repairing, or building certain vessels. The Act also provides benefits to specific survivors and dependents if the injury causes the employee's death. The term "injury" includes occupational disease arising out of employment.

The Act covers workers employed in maritime occupations, including longshore workers or other persons in longshore operations, and any harbor workers, including ship repairers, shipbuilders, and shipbreakers. The Act excludes certain workers, however, even if they are injured on navigable waters or an area adjoining those waters.  These excluded workers include masters or members of a crew of a vessel and any officer or employee of the United States or of any state or foreign government.  Certain other individuals may also be excluded, only if they are covered by a state workers’ compensation law.

In addition, the provisions of the LHWCA are incorporated into several other statutes providing workers’ compensation for other types of employees.  For example, the Defense Base Act covers employees of U.S. contractors working outside the United States, while the Nonappropriated Fund Instrumentalities Act provides for benefits for civilian employees of post exchanges, service clubs, etc. of the Armed Forces. The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act provides coverage to employees of private industry conducting certain operations on the Outer Continental Shelf of the United States.

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