Stevedores and Long Shore Workers

A stevedore is a man or a company who manages the operation of loading or unloading a ship.  Loading and unloading ships requires knowledge of the operation of loading equipment, the proper techniques for lifting and stowing cargo, and correct handling of hazardous materials.  In addition, workers must be physically strong and be able to follow orders.  Longshoremen refer exclusively to the dockworkers, while stevedores, are a separate trade union, worked on the ships, operating ships cranes and moving cargo.  In usual present-day U.S. waterfront word usage,.  A stevedore typically owns equipment used in the loading or discharge operation.  Stevedores hire longshoremen to load and unload cargo under the direction of a stevedore superintendent.

A stevedore’s contract of employment is regarded as a maritime contract.[i].  An action for injury sustained by a stevedore aboard a vessel in navigable waters is within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the federal courts.[ii].  Although intermediately employed, stevedores are entitled to the same protection against unseaworthiness like members of crew in performing ship’s service.  Additionally, the work of loading and unloading relating to a ship is historically a ship service work.[iii]

Federal law governs lawsuits between an injured longshoreman and a shipowner.  Federal law is set forth in the Longshoremen’s and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, 33 U.S.C.S. § 901.[iv]  Generally, dual duties are cast upon a ship owner to persons on board.  They are (1) to exercise ordinary care to place the ship,equipments and appliances in such condition that an expert and experienced stevedoring contractor, will be able to load or discharge the cargo,in a workmanlike manner ; and (2) to give the stevedoring contractor reasonable warning of the existence of any latent or hidden danger, if the shipowner actually knows.  Also the danger is one which the shipowner should reasonably expect a stevedoring contractor to encounter in the performance of the stevedoring contract.[v]

However, the primary responsibility for the safety of the longshoreman lies with the stevedoring company.  A stevedoring company must provide circumstances for the safe unloading of the cargo.  A stevedoring company is hired for its expertise in handling cargo safely and its personnel make all of the decisions on how best to conduct unloading.[vi]  33 USCS.941 requires a stevedore, the longshoremen’s employer, to provide a reasonably safe place to work and to take such safeguards with respect to equipment and working conditions as the Secretary of Labor may determine to be necessary to avoid injury to longshoremen.  The ship is not the common employer of the longshoremen and owes no such statutory duty to them.[vii]  If the shipowner knows of the dangerous condition and should anticipate that, even if the condition is obvious, the stevedore will not or cannot correct it and the longshoremen will not or cannot avoid it, the shipowner has a duty to take reasonable steps to eliminate or correct the condition.[viii]

[i]Atlantic Transport Co. v. Imbrovek, 225 U.S. 700 (U.S. 1912)

[ii]Swanson v. Marra Bros., Inc., 57 F. Supp. 456 (D. Pa. 1944)

[iii]Thompson v. Erie R. Co., 33 Misc. 2d 514, 525 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 1962)

[iv]Teofilovich v. D’Amico Mediterranean/Pacific Line, 415 F. Supp. 732 (C.D. Cal. 1976)

[v] Teofilovich v. D’Amico Mediterranean/Pacific Line, 415 F. Supp. 732 (C.D. Cal. 1976)

[vi] Teofilovich v. D’Amico Mediterranean/Pacific Line, 415 F. Supp. 732 (C.D. Cal. 1976)

[vii] Flynn v. American Auto Carriers Inc., 85 F. Supp. 2d 158 (E.D.N.Y. 2000)

[viii] Flynn v. American Auto Carriers Inc., 85 F. Supp. 2d 158 (E.D.N.Y. 2000)


Inside Stevedores and Long Shore Workers