AEU Longshore Blog ISSUE: Review of Status, Part One: Truck Drivers, Nurses, Railroad Workers, Security Guards, and Safety Managers

Coverage questions about maritime “status” under the Longshore Act arise regularly, and the AEU Longshore Blog has addressed different occupations in various posts.  Most recently we have discussed the “clerical exclusion” and the maritime status of salesmen and estimators.

Following is a compilation of other occupation-specific status discussions from past blogs.  For more information, please refer to the original posts linked below.

First, a review of “status”:  A worker satisfies the status requirement of Section 2(3) (33 U.S.C. 902(3)) if he is an employee engaged in work which is integral or essential to the loading, unloading, construction, repair, or dismantling of vessels.  To satisfy this requirement the employee need only spend some of his time in covered operations.  There is no moment of injury test; status is determined by the overall nature of the employee’s duties.

Status is not limited to those employees who directly load/unload cargo, or build or repair vessels.  Workers who build, repair or maintain the buildings, facilities, and equipment involved in these operations are also covered.

Shipyard Nurses

For a review of status of shipyard nurses, the case of Lucille Galinas v. Electric Boat Corp is a good example.  The claimant’s duties consisted of treating injured employees at the employer’s shipyard medical clinic, responding to ambulance calls in the shipyard, performing physical examinations, audiograms, and EKGs, stocking RADCON (radiological controls) supplies, and participating in RADCON training drills.  The issue was whether this claimant’s duties met status for Longshore Act coverage as integral or essential to the employer’s shipbuilding operations.  The U.S. Department of Labor’s Benefits Review Board (BRB) found that she did not meet the status test for coverage.

While the nurse’s duties were certainly important and useful to the employer, the non-performance of those duties did not have the potential to directly interrupt or impede the ongoing maritime operations, so she was not a maritime employee covered under the Longshore Act.

 

Truck Drivers

Typically there are several steps involved in the process of loading/unloading cargo.  Containers or cargo in other forms come off ships, and are placed at dockside.  The cargo may then be moved by the same or different personnel into a warehouse or storage area.  It may then be emptied by the same or other workers, and again moved around the warehouse or storage area depending on the conditions of its storage and the timing of its delivery to the consignee.  Finally, it is moved to a railhead or trucking area for overland transportation and delivery.

The Longshore Act covers all of the employees involved in the series of intermediate activities up to the point at which the cargo is loaded for overland delivery (or vice versa in the other direction).  Truck drivers who move cargo around terminals and ports, or from one terminal or port to another, are covered by the Longshore Act.

The truck driver whose only duty is to drive the truck transporting cargo from the terminal directly to inland consignees is most likely not covered, as the loading/unloading process has stopped, and he or she is involved only in land transportation.

 

Divers

Coverage for divers is problematic.  They may be covered by the Longshore Act, by state act workers’ compensation, or they may qualify for the seamen’s remedies as members of the crew of a vessel.  Crewmember status was tested under the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Chandris v. Latsis, and described the “Uncertainty Zone” between the mutually exclusive Longshore Act and the Jones Act/General Maritime Law remedies.

Divers often have short-term assignments, mixed duties which can include loading/unloading, and vessel maintenance and repair, and work in a variety of locations ranging from docks and piers to the outer continental shelf to the high seas.

As previously reviewed, there are several examples of coverage situations for divers among the different remedies.  In the case of Chandris, it did not end on an optimistic note.  The conclusion was, “Due to the uncertainty inherent in coverage issues involving divers, the bad news is that maritime employers may find themselves fully insuring workers separately for mutually exclusive remedies.”

 

Railroad Workers

The same considerations of “status” apply to railroad workers as to any other employees, i.e., a worker whose duties are integral or essential to maritime activity has status for Longshore Act coverage.

In the U.S. Supreme Court case of Chesapeake & Ohio Railway v. Schwalb it was held that railroad workers who facilitate the loading or unloading of cargo – in this case, coal – onto vessels are covered by the Longshore Act, which is their exclusive remedy against their employer for workplace injuries.  This includes workers who maintain, repair, and generally clean up around the equipment used in the loading/unloading process.

Because the Longshore Act covers these workers, they do not have the railroad employee’s negligence tort remedy under the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA).

In these railroad cases, it is necessary to identify the point at which land commerce (traditional railroad activity) ends and cargo handling begins.

 

Safety Directors and Claims Professionals

Does the Longshore Act cover shipyard and terminal safety and claims personnel?  Do they meet the integral or essential test for status?

Duties include accident investigation, inspection of equipment and procedures, regulatory compliance, employee training, maintenance of logs and schedules, possibly emergency medical duties, and handling medical, legal and administrative aspects of injury claims. 

Safety professionals could make a strong case for Longshore Act status, but that the claims staff would have a more difficult time establishing maritime status, since they typically first become involved only in the aftermath of operations that have resulted in an injury.  They are not in a position to interrupt or halt maritime operations.  Their jobs are important, but meeting the “essential” test for maritime status is unlikely.

 

Security Guards

Section 2(3)(A) of the Longshore Act excludes from coverage “individuals employed exclusively to perform office … security … work.”  In order to be excluded from Longshore Act coverage the “security guard” must do “security” work “exclusively” in an “office”.  This is a narrow exclusion.

An occupational analysis of typical security guard duties indicates that if they are on a covered situs then they may have a good argument for status.

The federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals has stated, “… pervasive surveillance conducted by (security guards) on the pier and occasionally on board ship is essential to the longshoring operation” (Arbeeny v. McRoberts Protective Agency, 642 F.2nd 672 (1981)).  Based on this, many security guards have a good argument for status under the integral or essential test.

Duties along the lines of safety roles, fire watch, maintenance, cargo processing, or any work actually over the water strengthen the status case for security guards.

 

As with all of these status discussions, pay attention to the full range of actual job duties and not to the job title. Part Two of this post will include construction workers, bridge workers, and some unusual status situations.

 

 

 

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John A. (Jack) Martone served for 27 years in the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, as the Chief, Branch of Insurance, Financial Management, and Assessments and Acting Director, Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation. Jack joined The American Equity Underwriters, Inc. (AEU) in 2006, where he serves as Senior Vice President, AEU Advisory Services and is the moderator of the AEU Longshore Blog.

AEU Longshore Blog ISSUE: Maritime “status” for “salespeople” and “estimators”

The question arose recently as to whether salespeople and estimators are covered under the Longshore Act.  This is a very imprecise and incomplete question, but it can be answered easily.  The answer is, “maybe.”

Ordinarily a question like this can only be addressed by asking an interminable number of context and background questions.  It may be useful to go through a “status” analysis of these two very broad occupational classifications, since it will require a consideration of a number of concepts central to the coverage issue of status.

But first we have to define what we mean by “salesperson” and “estimator”.

Salesperson means a person who sells goods and/or services.  It’s that simple.

Estimator, however, is more difficult.  Although it’s a somewhat vague noun, we can take it to mean one who evaluates and renders opinions as to value, time, and approximate charges for work to be done, and who performs appraisals, etc.  We will assume that our “estimator” is one who comes on to a maritime site to perform an estimate for someone seeking to perform work or assess condition.

For this discussion, we’ll assume that “situs” is met for Longshore Act coverage.  Now we can work through an analysis of whether salespeople and estimators meet “status”.

First, a very brief summary of broad general principles with regard to Longshore Act status:

  1. Status is determined by the overall nature of the worker’s duties, and the role of those duties in accomplishing, contributing to, facilitating, interrupting, impeding, and otherwise constituting a necessary part of cargo handling or shipbuilding/ship repair/shipbreaking.
  2. The test that is used is whether those job duties are essential or integral to traditional maritime activity such as cargo handling, shipbuilding, or ship repair.
  3. There is no moment of injury test for status. If any part of an employee’s regular duties is maritime in nature then he or she meets status for his entire employment, even if performing non-maritime work at the moment of injury.
  4. If an injury occurs while the employee is working over the navigable waters of the U.S., then he or she is covered by the Act unless an exclusion applies. The employee does not have to meet status for injuries over the water.

In order to determine whether or not salespeople and estimators may meet status, we’re going to have to separately consider several statutory provisions and coverage concepts.

 

Vendor Exclusion

First, let’s take the case of an injury to a salesperson or estimator that occurs while he or she is selling or estimating over the navigable waters of the United States.  We know from the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Director, OWCP v. Perini North River Associates (Churchill), 459 U.S. 297 (1983) (so-called Perini coverage) that situs confers status, and an injury over the water is covered under the Act.  This was the basis of coverage for an electrical repair estimator on board a vessel in the case of Scott v. Tug Mate, Inc., 22 BRBS 164 (1989).

So injury over the water is covered, unless a statutory exclusion applies – and there is one that might apply.

Section 2(3)(D) of the Longshore Act states:

“Sec. 2(3) The term ‘employee’ means any person engaged in maritime employment, including any longshoreman or other person engaged in longshoring operations, and any harbor-worker …, but such term does not include –

(D) individuals who (i) are employed by suppliers, transporters, or vendors, (ii) are temporarily doing business on the premises of a (maritime employer), and (iii) are not engaged in work normally performed by employees of that employer under this Act.”

This exclusion only covers 1) employees of vendors, suppliers, and transporters 2) who come on to a maritime situs temporarily and 3) are not engaged in work normally performed by employees of that employer under the Act.

Note:  the condition for the application of the exclusion is that the worker is covered by the state’s workers’ compensation law.

Examples of workers excluded under section 2(3)(D) include employees selling a product, such as the salesperson of cellular telephone air time (Daul v. Petroleum Communications, Inc., 196 F.3d 611 (5th Cir. 1999)) and the truck driver employed by a transporter whose sole responsibility was to pick up, transport, and deliver containers of sealed cargo from a storage area outside of the maritime facility who never left the truck.

So, a salesperson or estimator who is injured while working over the navigable waters of the U.S. is covered under the Longshore Act, unless this “vendor exclusion” applies. Although this exclusion is narrower than generally believed, salespeople are prime candidates for exclusion, depending on the circumstances and job duties.  Estimators, though, are less likely to be excluded by section 2(3)(D).  First, they have to be employed by a vendor, supplier, or transporter.  This rules out application of the exclusion for most estimators, who are more likely to be employed by a ship repairer, construction firm, insurance company, surveyor, etc.

For any injury that occurs over the water and coverage is uncertain, it is best first to consider whether Perini coverage applies and then consider whether any of the statutory exclusions in section 2(3) may apply.

To summarize so far, salespeople and estimators are covered by the Longshore Act if they are injured while working over the navigable waters, unless an exclusion such as the vendor provision applies to them.

 

What if the injury occurs on land and no exclusion applies?

We’re still assuming that they are on a covered situs, either an enumerated site or another adjoining area customarily used for maritime employment under Section 3(a).  In this case, we fall back on the general test for status, i.e., the employee has at least some regular job duties that are integral or essential to maritime activity.

This is a familiar issue, and it involves the question of whether the non-performance of the job duties in question has the potential to impede or interrupt the ongoing maritime activity at the site.  Under this test, I think that finding Longshore Act status for salespeople or estimators, as we have defined them, would be a stretch.  Their jobs are important, but they would usually fall short of the integral or essential test.

There is a broad range of jobs that have been found to be helpful and convenient to the maritime employer, but not essential.  These include shipyard nurses, claims adjustors, courtesy van drivers, terminal mess hall cooks, and office custodians. In most cases, salespeople and estimators can be added to this list.

Of course, there are other circumstances that can affect the coverage determination.

What if the salesperson delivers products on board vessels and actually helps to store/install the products?  The fact that he or she stores or installs the products most likely rules out the vendor exclusion (since the salesperson is doing work normally done by employees of the maritime employer), and if Perini doesn’t apply (injury not actually over the water) may he or she meet status?

The case of Felt v. San Pedro Tomco, 25 BRBS 362 (1992) involved a salesperson who delivered cleaning supplies and equipment to vessels several times daily.  Status was denied in this case since the time spent leading and discussing deliveries was minimal and episodic compared to his overall duties.  But this case could go the other way with a small change in circumstances.

Summary

Here is the checklist for coverage for a salesperson or estimator:

  1. Does Perini apply, i.e., did the injury occur over the water?
  2. If so, does an exclusion, such as the vendor exclusion in section 2(3)(D), apply?
  3. If neither 1 nor 2 apply, then does the worker meet the integral or essential test for status?

 

 

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John A. (Jack) Martone served for 27 years in the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, as the Chief, Branch of Insurance, Financial Management, and Assessments and Acting Director, Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation. Jack joined The American Equity Underwriters, Inc. (AEU) in 2006, where he serves as Senior Vice President, AEU Advisory Services and is the moderator of the AEU Longshore Blog.

ISSUE: Recurring Question

Some questions come up over and over again.  One such question involves foreign workers and/or foreign employers in the United States.  Does the Longshore Act cover foreign workers?  Does the Longshore Act apply to foreign companies?  The answers are yes.

If we look at the definitions and coverage provisions in the Act we do not find anything that pertains to nationality or citizenship, with one minor exception.

Section 2(3) (33 U.S.C. 902(3)) defines “employee” as, “any person engaged in maritime employment, including any longshoreman or other person engaged in longshoring operations, and any harbor-worker including a ship repairman, shipbuilder, and ship-breaker …”. 

Section 2(4) defines “employer” as, “an employer any of whose employees are employed in maritime employment, in whole or in part, upon the navigable waters of the United States (including any adjoining pier, wharf, dry dock, terminal, building way, marine railway, or other adjoining area customarily used by an employer in loading, unloading, repairing, or building a vessel)”.

Section 3 is the Coverage provision.  Section 3(a) states, “… compensation shall be payable under this Act in respect of disability or death of an employee, but only if the disability or death results from an injury occurring upon the navigable waters of the United States (including any adjoining pier, wharf, dry dock, terminal, building way, marine railway, or other adjoining area customarily used by an employer in loading, unloading, repairing, dismantling, or building a vessel).”

Section 3(b) states that, “No compensation shall be payable in respect of the disability or death of an officer or employee of the United States, or any agency therof, or of any State or foreign government, or any subdivision thereof.”

So that’s it.  Section 2(3) is the “status” provision, and Section 3(a) is the “situs” provision.  Together they provide the tests for coverage for employees under the Longshore Act.  A maritime employer is any employer who employs a worker who meets the “status” and “situs” tests.

With the exception of employees of a foreign government, there is no nationality or citizenship component to Longshore Act coverage.

If a domestic U.S. company hires foreign workers to work in the U.S., either permanently or temporarily, these workers are covered by the Longshore Act if they meet the status and situs tests.

If a foreign company sends foreign workers to work in theUnited States, either permanently or temporarily, these workers are covered by the Longshore Act if they meet the status and situs tests.

All employees, working in maritime employment on covered sites as specified in Section 3(a), and not specifically excluded somewhere else in the Act, are covered.  Nationality or citizenship is not part of the coverage analysis.  It all comes down to status and situs, period.

Now bear in mind that we’ve been discussing the coverage issue of foreign workers working in the U.S. The coverage issue presented by U.S. citizens working overseas or on the high seas is an entirely separate question.  We discussed this back on August 21, 2009, and we will have the opportunity to pick up the issue again when the Ninth Circuit issues its decision in the pending appeal of Joseph Tracy v. Keller Foundation, Inc./Case Foundation Co. and ACE USA/ESIS v. Global Offshore Int’l, Inc., Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., and Director, Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (Ninth Circuit Nos. 11-71703, 11-71800)(Yes, that is a long caption with a lot of parties).  This case involves aU.S. citizen performing maritime work in Singapore and Indonesia.  One issue is, “Does the Longshore Act cover an American citizen injured on foreign territorial waters in the course of his maritime employment?”

Finally, congratulations to David Widener, who has been selected for the position of Longshore District Director in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Houston district office.  Dave, formerly with The American Equity Risk Services (AERS),ALMA’s claims unit, and most recently with the Department of Labor as a Claims Examiner in the DOL’s Houston office, is an excellent choice.

Issue – Coverage for Work on Bridges

Work done on and around bridges is the subject of recurring questions with regard to coverage under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.  So at the risk of doing more harm than good, I’ll try to summarize some general principles as I understand them.

SITUS

1)      The current version of Section 903(a) of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act states, “Except as otherwise provided in this section,  compensation shall be payable under this Act in respect of disability or death of an employee, but only if the disability or death results from an injury occurring upon the navigable waters of the United States (including any adjoining pier, wharf, dry dock, terminal, building way, marine railway, or other adjoining area customarily used by an employer in loading, unloading, repairing, dismantling, or building a vessel).”  You must be working over the navigable waters of the U.S., or on one of the listed enumerated sites, or in an “other adjoining area” customarily used for maritime activity.

2)      Section 903(a) prior to the 1972 amendments to the Longshore Act stated, “Compensation shall be payable under this chapter in respect of disability or death of an employee, but only if the disability or death results from an injury occurring upon the navigable waters of the United States (including any dry dock)….”  Prior to the 1972 amendments, workers were covered only if they worked over the navigable waters of the U.S. or on a dry dock.  This was a situs test only.  There was no status test prior to the ’72 amendments.  If you were over the water you were covered.

3)      Note that in neither version are bridges mentioned, either prior to the 1972 amendments when coverage was limited to injuries occurring over the water or on dry docks, or after the 1972 amendments when coverage was extended landward to the enumerated sites or other adjoining areas customarily used for maritime activity.  Bridges were not considered to be covered sites prior to the 1972 amendments (they were considered to be extensions of land) and were not included in the 1972 amendments when certain locations were enumerated as covered.

4)      “Perini” coverage is still good law.  In Director, OWCP v. Perini North River Associates, 459 U.S. 297 (1983), the U.S. Supreme Court held that Congress, in amending the Act to expand coverage landward in 1972, did not intend to withdraw coverage from workers injured on navigable waters who would have been covered by the Act prior to the amendments (situs test only).  If you would have been covered pre-1972 amendments (injured over the water) then you are covered under current law.  But working on bridges permanently affixed to land is not considered working over the water, as bridges are considered to be extensions of the land.  So, generally speaking, bridge workers do not have Longshore coverage by virtue of Perini.

Since work on bridges permanently affixed to land is generally not covered under the Longshore Act, since a bridge is not a covered site and was not covered prior to the 1972 amendments, what are some of the circumstances that might provide exceptions to this general proposition?

1)      What if the bridge worker is not working on the bridge itself, but rather working from a barge or work platform floating on the water?  Here you could have Longshore coverage, since the worker is working over the water and not on a bridge permanently fixed to land.

2)      What if the bridge is incomplete, not yet permanently attached to land, and the worker is working on a section surrounded by water?  You could have Longshore Act coverage.

3)      What if the bridge is incomplete and the worker is working on the partially built section jutting out over the water?  At least two federal circuit courts of appeals might consider that to be a pier, i.e., an enumerated situs in section 903(a).  (You know, a pier, what James Joyce would call a disappointed bridge).

4)      What if the bridge is “floating”, that is, not permanently affixed to land?  You might have Longshore Act coverage.

5)      What if you are working on a structure temporarily affixed to a bridge?  You might have Longshore Act coverage.  You are over the water and not working on a permanently affixed extension of land.

6)      Etc.

Note that we have only been discussing coverage for bridge work in the context of “situs”.  We’ve concluded that bridges are not covered sites under the Longshore Act unless there is something about the “bridge” that may constitute an exception to the principle of bridge as extension of land.  But what if you think that you meet the situs requirement but aren’t sure if Perini coverage applies?

STATUS

Longshore Act coverage issues require a discussion of status as well as situs.  Status is usually a secondary consideration in bridge cases.  If you meet the situs element for coverage along the lines of the exceptions suggested above then you will usually satisfy status by virtue of Perini.

But what about status?   Is work on a bridge considered maritime employment?  It depends. You need a strong maritime connection of some kind to have an argument for coverage under the status criteria.  For example, what effect will the work have on water borne commerce?  If you can make a strong argument that the purpose of the work is to aid, regulate, or otherwise influence maritime commerce, such as work on a drawbridge that will improve the flow of commerce, then you may have “status”.  In some federal circuits, but not all, if you are unloading construction materials at the job site this may give you status.

So that about sums it up.  Work on bridges is covered under state workers’ compensation statutes, but maybe it’s covered under the federal Longshore Act, or both (see previous discussion involving concurrent jurisdiction). 

A useful approach might be to start by assuming that work on a bridge is covered by state act workers’ compensation and then look for any of the circumstances that might possibly involve Longshore Act exposure; that is, it’s not really a bridge (a completed structure permanently affixed to land), you are working over the water, and/or are arguably engaged in maritime employment (loading and unloading).

But remember, as with most coverage issues, consider all of the facts.  If you have only one half of the facts then you only have a 50% chance of reaching the most likely to be correct conclusion. 

In view of the previous discussions with regard to the consequences to the company and corporate officers of being uninsured, if there is any doubt whatsoever as to coverage requirements, it is wise to be covered for both state and federal exposures.