A continental shelf is that portion of a continent which is submerged under relatively shallow waters along the coastline of that continent. The continental shelf of the United States comprises the seabed and subsoil of the submarine areas over which coastal states of the United States exercise sovereign rights. The outer continental shelf, on the other hand, comprises parts of the U.S. continental shelf that do not fall under the jurisdiction of any individual state. These outer continental shelves are often rich in natural resources such as oil and gas. As a result, several government and private organizations engage a large workforce in these marine areas for the purpose of exploring and developing those natural resources.
The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act of 1953 is meant to provide benefits to those workers who are employed in these areas. The act extends the disability and death benefits provided under the Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act to workers who are injured while working on the outer continental shelf during the exploration and development of natural resources.
According to the OCSLA, a worker who is injured on the outer continental shelf, or the survivors of a worker who was killed on the outer continental shelf, can file a compensation claim in the United States district court catering to the area in which the victim resides or where the victim was found. The claim can also be filed at the U.S. district court that is nearest to the place where the cause of action arose.
It is important to remember that, like the LHWCA, a worker (or an “employee” as the OCSLA calls it) does not include masters or members of the crew or an officer of the federal or any foreign government. In addition, there are several other aspects of the act that maritime workers injured on the outer continental shelf of the United States and their families need to know. To understand those provisions of the OCSLA clearly, it may be wise decision on part of the victims and families to seek professional assistance.