Labor Department issues workers’ comp rule

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The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Workers' Compensation Programs 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 act 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 less 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 coverage if they are covered under a state workers' compensation law.

The final rule adopts several recommendations made by members of the public and generally uses the Coast Guard's standards for defining a recreational vessel.

The Labor Department added two provisions to make it easier to apply these standards in the act’s context. First, a manufacturer or builder can 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, non-commercial vessels that are recreational by design and owned or chartered by the federal or a state government fall within the recreational vessel definition.

Click here for the final rule.

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