Ian Greenway, president of Florida-based LIG Marine Managers, testified as a witness before the House Workforce Protections Subcommittee in support of legislation introduced by Rep. Ric Keller (R-FL)—the Recreational Marine Employment Act (H.R. 1329).
The RMEA is intended to restore U.S. jobs in the recreational boating industry that have been lost to foreign competition overseas.
Some estimates indicate one in five boat projects have migrated from the U.S. because of the additional cost of mandating duplicative insurance coverage. The additional insurance requirements imposed by the Longshore Act on some U.S. businesses puts them at a competitive disadvantage to foreign competition and have cost jobs for American workers as a result.
Congress in 1984 exempted employees in the recreational boating industry, specifically boats 65 feet and under, from the Longshore Act. Work performed on these boats is instead covered under state workers’ compensations laws.
Over the past 20 years, there has been tremendous growth in the number of recreational boats that measure 65 feet or longer, so current law is outdated and arbitrarily imposes additional requirements on some U.S. businesses that put them at a competitive disadvantage to foreign competition.
Greenway, in his capacity as a provider of commercial marine insurance, disputed the notion there was an increased safety risk for boats greater than 65 feet in length that justified the exorbitant expense of Longshore coverage for recreational marine employments.
“There is no difference in the risks associated with repairing the plumbing, air conditioning or radio on a 75 foot recreational boat as compared to a 65 foot recreational boat,” Greenway testified. “In fact, current insurance data demonstrates that claims for these larger vessels are significantly lower. Claims for workers on vessels of 65-150 feet are at least 38 percent lower than those on vessels under 65 feet. We see not only fewer injuries but also fewer serious injuries in larger recreational boats than we do in their smaller counterparts.”
Greenway concluded by saying the Keller bill would “provide an economic boost to employers, allowing them to expand their operations and hire new employees, all while leaving the traditional Longshore employees unaffected.”
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