Maritime Companies Need USL&H Workers’ Compensation

USL&H Coverage for Longshore and Harbor Workers

State laws require employers to have adequate insurance coverage to compensate for their employees’ on-the-job injuries or illnesses. What’s more, is that maritime companies need a special type of Workers’ Compensation coverage known as USL&H for longshore or harbor workers.

What is United States Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation?

The U.S. Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) is a federal law that came into effect in 1927. It requires companies that operate on the United States’ navigable waters or surrounding areas to have a specific type of insurance to cover their employees who are injured or fall while performing maritime-related duties.

Who Needs USL&H Insurance and Why?

USL&H insurance is mandatory for companies with full-time or part-time employees hired to do maritime work in the U.S. Businesses that require this coverage as per the LHWCA include:

  1. Longshore and Harbor workers

    Longshore and harbor workers who are involved in potentially risky operations, such as loading and unloading cargo onto ships face unique hazards every day, such as:

    • Working outdoors in all types of weather
    • Risk of injury from constantly moving heavy equipment, semi-trucks, and cars
    • Strenuous physical labor
    • Repetitive motion injuries
    • Heavy-lifting musculoskeletal disorders
    • Exposure to hazardous materials
  2. Ship repairmen, shipbuilders, and painters

    Personnel involved in the repair, building, and painting of ships who are at risk of:

    • Extreme fatigue due to overexertion
    • Injuries due to repetitive exposure to vibration, pressure, or repeated motion
    • Physical trauma from awkward body positions or extended static postures
    • Eye injuries
    • Musculoskeletal issues from the manual raising or lowering of objects
    • Burns from heat or radiation
    • Electrocution
    • Fall from height injuries
  3. Casual visitors on vessels

    Business owners may be responsible for the safety of people working on a casual basis. Even if they only work a few hours at a shipyard, the LHWCA may recognize them as an employee.

    Certain casual workers or similar professionals who only visit vessels occasionally can seek benefits under the USL&H Workers’ Compensation coverage, for example:

    • Longshore union representatives
    • Customhouse brokers
    • Insurance adjusters
    • Cargo handlers
    • Steamship company staff
  4. Personnel involved in dredging work

    Dredging operations involve the use of cranes, grabbers, and other heavy equipment. Unfortunately, workers operating such machinery sometimes suffer disabling injuries or even death. Typical causes of dredging accidents include:

    • Breakdown of high-pressure systems such as hoses and valves, causing bruises, breaking bones, scalding skin, etc.
    • When a pipeline in a pneumatic/suction dredge breaks, it can cause crush injuries leading to the loss of the victim’s arms and hands
  5. Employees of maritime construction companies

    Maritime construction, such as bridge projects, exposes workers to various hazards, such as:

    • Slips, trips, and falls
    • Heavy equipment-related injuries
    • Exposure to harmful chemicals
    • Fire hazards
    • Confined space hazards, such as oxygen deficiency, excessive heat, toxic environments, etc.

Workers Excluded from USL&H Insurance Coverage

Not everyone who works for a maritime company is a potential beneficiary of USL&H insurance. Also, some covered longshore workers or harbor employees may be denied compensation if their injury or illness resulted from exclusion criteria, such as:

  • Crew members of any vessel
  • Employees injured solely due to intoxication
  • Federal, state, or foreign government employees

Also, businesses are not required to carry USL&H insurance for specific individuals if they are protected under their state’s Workers’ Compensation law. Examples include:

  • People hired solely for office duties, such as secretarial staff or data entry clerks
  • People who work for an entertainment/recreational company or establishments, such as a restaurant, camp, club, museum, or retail stores
  • People hired by a marina for duties other than construction, replacement, or structural modification of the marina
  • Vendor or transport company employees that temporarily do official business on the premises of a maritime company, but aren’t involved in maritime activities covered by LHWCA
  • People hired to build, repair, or take apart a recreational vessel that is shorter than sixty-five feet
  • Aquaculture personnel

PMC has a USL&H Workers’ Compensation program to help independent insurance agents deliver more options and solutions to fit their clients’ needs. For more information or help with a submission, contact our experts at PMC Insurance Group or call us at (877) PMC-COMP or EMail us at

By PMC Insurance Group

Since 1996, PMC Insurance Group has worked to help independent agents grow their client base by offering workers' compensation solutions for a wide array of businesses. As one of the most distinguished workers' compensation wholesalers in the country, we have the tools and resources to help you create coverage programs for small businesses and large accounts.