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The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, Protecting the Rights of Offshore Workers

The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, Protecting the Rights of Offshore Workers

The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act is what regulates the land under water off our coastlines. This act, implemented in 1953, designates all land lying seaward of state coastal waters for three miles as the “outer continental shelf,” and gives control of these lands to the Secretary of the Interior. This means the Department of the Interior has the power to grant leases on this land to those who it deems to be the highest-qualified and responsible bidders. Who bids on this land? Oil and natural gas drillers.

Act History

Summerland, California uncovered massive deposits of crude oil and natural gas in the late 1800’s, resulting in a massive rush of drillers and oil wells. The workers learned that sources closer to the beach were the most productive and resource-rich. Soon, disputes began to arise over control of these resources, and resources in more locations as well, including the Gulf Coast of Texas.

Oil rapidly became one of the leading revenue-generating resources for the United States, but there was still increased dispute over who actually owned the land that companies wished to build oil rigs and drilling stations on. The 1953 U.S. Submerged Lands Act, signed along with the OCSLA, gave the federal government ownership and control of these lands, up to three miles out from shore.

Protecting Rights of Offshore Workers

The OCSLA also created provisions to protect injured workers in maritime industries, through provisions that resemble those in the Jones Act. While the Jones Act provides protection for workers on ships, the OCSLA extends those protections to workers on both permanent and temporary offshore facilities, like oil rigs, natural gas extraction rigs, wind turbines, and more.

Workers who qualify for protection under the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act of 1927 (including stevedores, dock workers, shipfitters, and more), who usually do not qualify for Jones Act protection, are protected under this act.

The OCSLA then extended these protections to workers on temporary facilities. Under the LHWCA, injured workers are entitled to federal compensation equaling two-thirds of their average weekly pay while treatment is being administered. Once treatment has finished, the LHWCA provides compensation for injuries or up to two-thirds of lost earning capacity.

Have you or a loved one been injured as a result of an accident while on an offshore oil rig? At Brunkenhoefer, P.C. Injury Attorneys, our attorneys have more than 70 years of combined experience protecting those who have been hurt while working offshore, and can provide you with exceptional and trustworthy maritime law counsel. We proudly operate on a contingency fee basis, meaning you pay nothing unless we are successful in recovering on your behalf.

Call Brunkenhoefer, P.C. Injury Attorneys today at (855) 812-1100 and request a free case evaluation to get started!