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Vessel owners’ duties to longshoremen

Any employee in New York has a right to expect a company to ensure safe working conditions. Likewise, you should be able to trust that the owners of the vessels you load and unload will do what they can to maintain your safety. We at the law firm of Tabak, Mellusi & Shisha understand all the nuances of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, and how those may apply to situations where you work.

The National Law Review explains that a vessel owner owes three duties to you when you are performing jobs under hazardous conditions. These include the following:

  •          To provide you with conditions that are reasonably safe when the vessel is turned over to you, along with warnings of any hazards that are not obvious
  •          To take steps to prevent you from sustaining injuries when you are working in areas that are under the control of the vessel
  •          In a limited capacity, to intervene when you are performing tasks in a way that is not safe

There may be occasions when the operations of the vessel create conditions that could be a danger to you. In a recent lawsuit, a stevedore claimed that the owner was responsible for his fall from a flat rack because a safety expansion had not been replaced, and he had used an unsafe technique to attempt to reach the top. He sued the owner for failure to intervene and breach of active control duty.

In that case, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the control of that working area had been turned over to the stevedore, so it was his own responsibility to ensure safety. More information about the LHWCA is available on our webpage.

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