New Final Rule for LHWCA’s Exclusion of Recreational Vessel Workers

The United States Department of Labor issued a final rule implementing the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Act’s exclusion for recreational vessel workers.  The final rule, which becomes effective on January 30, 2012, excludes from the definition of “employee” those “[i]ndividuals employed to build any recreational vehicle under sixty-five feet in length, or individuals employed to repair any recreational vehicle, or to dismantle any part of a recreational vehicle in connection with the repair of such vessel….”  Further, the final rule defines the term “recreational vessel” by incorporating the United States Coast Guard’s standards for defining a recreational vehicle.  The definition focuses on the purpose of the vessel (i.e. is it used for pleasure or recreation?), but even a public vessel can be deemed recreational “at the time of repair, dismantling for repair, or dismantling, provided that such vessel shares elements of design and construction with traditional recreational vessels and is not normally engaged in a military, commercial or traditionally commercial undertaking.”

More information concerning this final rule can be found at the Federal Register.  The Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation’s web page discussing the rule is here, and Industry Notice No. 137 is here.

Finally, for an in-depth critique of the final rule, check out John Chamberlain’s posts at John’s Longshore and Defense Base Act Blog.