Longshoremen and other harbor workers often put in very long hours. They may have to work late night shifts, on weekends and during holidays because the need for loading and unloading and other freight-related services never really stops.
Baton Rouge sees many vessels traveling the country via the Mississippi. The area is a major transportation hub for maritime shipping in the United States. Container ships and other vessels often come through Baton Rouge to deliver goods or pick up freight. Every vessel they load and unload requires the services of local longshoremen and other harbor workers.
Longshoremen and similar harbor workers accept a great deal of risk related to their employment. Not only do they work in close proximity to the water, which is dangerous on its own, but they also often have to work with heavy machinery, like forklifts. Unlike most other workers in Louisiana, injured longshoremen and harbor workers do not have the option of simply filing a basic workers’ compensation claim after an injury.
While Louisiana workers’ compensation isn’t available to harbor workers, there are other protections in place. Specifically, there is a federal statute that applies to on-the-job injuries for harbor employees working on the ocean or navigable waterways across the United States. The Mississippi is the most-used navigable domestic waterway in the country.
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) created a separate workers’ compensation system for those who work loading and unloading ships or otherwise performing crucial services at harbors around the United States. Since 1927, harbor workers have been eligible for disability benefits, medical coverage and even vocational training if they cannot return the same line of work after an injury. Employers typically purchase insurance coverage, as they do for standard workers’ compensation. Unlike other maritime protection laws, like the Jones Act, the LHWCA does not force someone to litigate to obtain benefits.
Those who meet the necessary standards and follow the right procedures can obtain benefits to cover medical care and lost wages. Seeking legal guidance and utilizing compensation programs intended to protect workers in high-risk professions may benefit those who end up injured because of their careers.
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