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How OSHA regulations and maritime law meet

When OSHA is mentioned, some in New Orleans may think that that agency's jurisdiction is limited to indoor workspaces. However, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is authorized to regulate all work environments including longshore and marine terminals. The federal authority to regulate these work areas comes from the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 or the OSH Act. Part 1910, Subpart B of the federal OSHA regulations extended the established federal standards of the OSH Act. This extension included standard number 1910.16, which covers longshoring and marine terminals.

Standard 1910.16 created safety and health standards for longshoring. All owner-operators of offshore vessels must adhere to the components of this act. This section covers everything from access to employee exposure and medical records to safety and health standards for marine terminals. Marine terminals in this act are defined as wharves, bulkheads, quays, piers, docks and other berthing locations and adjacent storage areas that are associated with the primary movement of cargo or materials from vessel to shore. This term does not include the production or manufacturing areas that have their own docking facilities and are located near a marine terminal.

Since there are federal regulations for anyone who owns, operates and employs workers on offshore vessels, there can stiff penalties for anyone who violates regulations safeguarding the health and safety of its workers. In addition to fines that may be levied for violating federal regulations, injured workers may also seek damages through the filing of a civil suit. The Jones Act allows injured workers to make claims for compensation when the injury is due to the negligence of an owner.

An injured worker should seek legal counsel that is experienced in the area of maritime law. An attorney can assess the case and determine the appropriate legal strategy.

Source: The United States Department of Labor, "Safety and health standards for longshoring," accessed on May 18, 2015

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