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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

OWCP News Release: [01/05/2012]
Contact Name: Mary Brandenberger or Jesse Lawder
Phone Number: (202) 693-4651 or x4659
Release Number: 12-0004-NAT

US Labor Department announces final rule defining recreational vessels under Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Workers' Compensation Programs has issued a final rule implementing the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act's exclusion for recreational vessel workers. The rule defines what constitutes a "recreational vessel" when applying the exclusion.

The LHWCA provides workers (or their survivors in the case of death) compensation for injuries related to maritime employment on the navigable waters of the United States or adjoining areas. Prior to 2009, workers who repaired or dismantled recreational vessels fewer than 65 feet in length were excluded from coverage if they were covered by a state workers' compensation program. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 expanded this exclusion by eliminating the 65-foot limitation; post-amendment, workers who repair recreational vessels of any length or dismantle them for repair are excluded from LHWCA coverage if they are covered under a state workers' compensation law.

The final rule adopts several recommendations made by members of the public who commented on a notice of proposed rulemaking issued Aug. 17, 2010. The final rule generally uses the U.S. Coast Guard's standards for defining a recreational vessel. The Labor Department has added two provisions to make it easier to apply these standards in the LHWCA context. First, a manufacturer or builder may determine whether a vessel is recreational within the meaning of the regulation based on the vessel's design rather than on its end use. Second, noncommercial vessels that are recreational by design and owned or chartered by the federal or a state government fall within the recreational vessel definition.

The rule can be viewed on the Federal Register's website at http://federalregister.gov/a/2011-32880. Additional information is available on OWCP's website at http://www.dol.gov/owcp/dlhwc/lsnewregulation.htm.

The Office of Workers' Compensation Programs administers several disability benefit programs that cover longshore and harbor workers, federal government civilian contractors who work overseas, coal miners, federal employees and nuclear weapons workers. These programs provide a variety of benefits, including income replacement, medical benefits, vocational rehabilitation and survivor benefits. For more information about these programs, visit http://www.dol.gov/owcp.