Longshoremen and those who assist in loading and unloading vessels, ship-breakers, ship repairmen, and shipbuilders are the main categories of employees eligible for benefits under the Longshore Act. The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) is a federal workers’ compensation act; it governs workers’ compensation for maritime employers and employees, and civilian employees on military bases (maritime employees covered under the Longshore Act include longshoremen, harbor workers, and certain people who work on docks shipyards or shipping terminals.
A study on the health profile of shipyard workers, specifically of shipbuilders,was conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) to evaluate the risks these types of workers were exposed to. The NCBI is part of the United States National Library of Medicine (NLM), a branch of the National Institutes of Health.
Though a very important industry, ship building, nonetheless, requires workers to observe constant caution due to the uncomfortable and dangerous working conditions workers face. In closed or cramped spaces, shipbuilders carry out various activities including: dry docking and launching; handling large materials; outfitting; surface preparation and scaling; fabricating and repairing large structural components; loading and unloading, welding, electroplating, electrical maintenance and repair; and painting. These activities, according to a San Diego maritime lawsuit attorney, often result to electrical shock due to working in wet environments, respiratory problems from inhaling toxic fumes, broken bones, spinal cord damage, traumatic brain injuries, severe lacerations or loss of limbs, and severe injuries, chronic illness or fatalities due to lead intoxication, electrocution, inhalation of paint fumes, respiratory problems due to exposure to asbestos, fires and explosions from welding, and noise-induced hearing loss.
Besides the unhealthy working conditions, shipbuilders are also exposed to: huge machineries, which require immense skill and strength to operate; high pressure in their enclosed, tiny work space; and exposure to dangerous minerals and substances, like asbestos.
Despite all these life-altering and life-threatening conditions, many employers either fail to provide workers with the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) or never show concern when workers violate safety work rules by not using PPE while at work. With help from a highly-skilled maritime lawyer, workers, who get injured, may have better chances at receiving the benefits provided under the Longshore Act, or at seeking compensation through a lawsuit against their negligent employer.