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What Is a Longshoreman?

Longshoremen are maritime employees who work at seaports and docks to load and unload ships. These workers are also commonly referred to as stevedores, a term that originated in Portugal or Spain from the word estibador, meaning "a man who stuffs." Later, the term longshoreman was adopted in the United States from the meaning "a man along the shore." In modern maritime parlance, longshoremen are separate from stevedores; stevedores work on ships to operate cranes and move cargo while longshoremen work primarily on docks.

Common Responsibilities of a Longshoreman

Longshoremen typically work loading and unloading cargo from vessels in ports, harbors, and docks. This work takes specialized knowledge of heavy machinery operation (such as cranes), as well as the proper techniques for handling hazardous materials. While the early days of the longshore profession began with tying cargo down with ropes, this has changed with the introduction of containerization.

Today, almost all non-bulk cargo is carried in intermodal containers aboard containerships. These containers arrive to a port either by truck, train, or vessel, and are neatly stacked in the storage area. Once it is time for them to be loaded onto a ship, they are transferred via crane.

Longshoremen & the LHWCA

Unlike other offshore workers, maritime laws such as the Jones Act do not protect longshoremen because they do not work on open waters; instead, longshoremen receive protection from the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA). Per the Department of Labor, the LHWCA provides "employment-injury and occupational disease protection to approximately 500,000 workers who are injured or contract occupational diseases occurring on the navigable waters of the United States or in adjoining areas."

The following benefits are provided to longshoremen under the LHWCA:

  • Medical Care
  • Disability Compensation
  • Permanent & Temporary Total Disability
  • Permanent Partial Disability
  • Temporary Partial & Non-Scheduled Permanent Partial Disability
  • Permanent Partial Disability for Retirees
  • Rehabilitation
  • Death Benefits

To learn more about longshoremen and associated maritime laws, do not hesitate to contact us!

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