A security guard may be covered under the Longshore Act if his work is integral to shipbuilding.

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The 1984 Amendments to the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act made it clear that employees who exclusively perform “office clerical, secretarial, security, or data processing work” are not covered by the Act so long as they are covered by the applicable state workers’ compensation act.  33 U.S.C. §902(3)(A).

In a recent case, Gelinas v. Electric Boat Corp., 45 BRBS 69 (2011), the Benefits Review Board appears to have taken steps toward limiting this exclusion, at least as it applies to security guards.

In Gelinas, the claimant was employed as a security guard at his employer’s submarine fabrication facility.  He was required to hold an EMT certification and while he was typically assigned to work at the entrance of the facility, he would perform security rounds through the facility on the weekends.  He was also required to respond to medical incidents at the facility.

The ALJ had determined that the EMT duties of the claimant were not maritime in nature and that none of the duties were integral to shipbuilding and denied coverage.  The Board reversed the ALJ’s holding that the claimant did not have status as a maritime employee under the Act, finding that the ALJ had not adequately detail the rationale behind his decision and specify the evidence on which he relied.  The case was remanded back to the ALJ for further determination as to whether the claimant’s work was integral to the shipbuilding process.

The takeaway for Longshore employers and carriers is that it isn’t safe to assume that security guards will always fall outside of the Act’s status requirement.  The job duties of the security officer must be carefully scrutinized to determine whether they may be integral to shipbuilding.

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