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|Source:||A.M. Best Company, Inc.|
Insurers are once again lending their support to federal legislation seeking to amend a federally administered workers' compensation system for maritime employees.
The Longshore and Harbor Workers Act Amendment of 2011 is aimed at modernizing the program that covers workers in the longshore, shipbuilding, marine construction and related industries. It provides medical, physical rehabilitation and lost wage replacement benefits, but has not been updated since 1984. Similar legislation has been introduced but not passed in at least two prior Congresses.
"The act is long overdue for attention from
The bill, S 669, is before the
The 84-year-old Longshore Act offers a comprehensive, no-fault workers' comp scheme for injured maritime workers who aren't covered either by the Jones Act, which protects seamen, or by state workers' comp laws, which typically don't cover workplace injuries sustained while on navigable water. The system is financed by employers and administered by the
The Longshore Act is the nation's most expensive workers' compensation program, said
The bill is also supported by the
Insurers have previously raised concerns about the program's second-injury fund, under which the government assesses participants to pay for injuries suffered by workers who already have been deemed partially disabled. Originally established to encourage employers to rehire partially disabled workers, some argue the fund's initial purpose was rendered moot by the 1990 passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Supporters have also argued that legal interpretation of the act has expanded to include categories of workers the law never was intended to cover. In addition to workers who actually load and unload cargos, coverage has been extended in some cases to include personnel such as cargo "checkers," mechanics, gear lockers, those involved in building or repairing ships or docks, truck drivers, fork-lift operators, crane operators and employees on fixed oil-production platforms on the continental shelf of the