I have today signed S. 38, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act Amendments of 1984. The last amendments to this act in 1972 expanded worker coverage and provided relatively high benefits which resulted in excessive costs. Today’s legislation addresses these issues and makes important reforms in workers compensation for injured workers, who contributed so much to our nation’s vital maritime industry, and their families.
This legislation is the result of the hard work and cooperative spirit of employers, unions, and the insurance industry. It passed the Congress with strong bipartisan support and with the endorsement of this administration.
I want to congratulate all the parties to this consensus legislation. Their efforts strike a balance between continuing to provide fair and necessary benefits for injured workers and their families and, at the same time, giving employers, insurers, and the Labor Department the means to control program costs more effectively. The bill will accomplish this by clarifying the act’s coverage to exempt certain categories of workers whose work activities are on land, putting reasonable limits on benefits and increasing the penalties for fraud and abuse.
Some have rightly argued that this more thrifty approach to workers’ compensation may have caused more hardship on employers attempting to follow through on the very law that requires them to reimburse the costs of an injured worker. But the issue itself was certainly taken serious.