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decided: March 18, 1985; As Amended.



White, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Burger, C. J., and Powell, Rehnquist, and Stevens, JJ., joined. Marshall, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Brennan, Blackmun, and O'connor, JJ., joined, post, p. 428.

Author: White

[ 470 U.S. Page 415]

 JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court.

The Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA or Act), 44 Stat. 1424, as amended, 33 U. S. C. § 901 et seq., provides compensation for the death or disability of any person engaged in "maritime employment," § 902(3), if the disability or death results from an injury incurred upon the navigable waters of the United States or any adjoining pier or other area customarily used by an employer in loading, unloading, repairing, or building a vessel, § 903(a).*fn1 Thus, a worker claiming under the Act must satisfy

[ 470 U.S. Page 416]

     both a "status" and a "situs" test. The court below held that respondent Robert Gray, a welder working on a fixed offshore oil-drilling platform in state territorial waters, was entitled to benefits under the Act. We reverse for the reason that Gray was not engaged in maritime employment.


Respondent Gray worked for Herb's Welding, Inc., in the Bay Marchand oil and gas field off the Louisiana coast. Herb's Welding provided welding services to the owners of drilling platforms. The field was located partly in Louisiana territorial waters, i. e., within three miles of the shore, and partly on the Outer Continental Shelf. Gray ate and slept on a platform situated in Louisiana waters. He spent roughly three-quarters of his working time on platforms in state waters and the rest on platforms on the Outer Continental Shelf. He worked exclusively as a welder, building and replacing pipelines and doing general maintenance work on the platforms.

On July 11, 1975, Gray was welding a gas flow line on a fixed platform*fn2 located in Louisiana waters. He burnt

[ 470 U.S. Page 417]

     through the bottom of the line and an explosion occurred. Gray ran from the area, and in doing so hurt his knee. He sought benefits under the LHWCA for lost wages, disability, and medical expenses.*fn3 When petitioner United States Fidelity & Guaranty Co., the workers' compensation carrier for Herb's Welding, denied LHWCA benefits, Gray filed a complaint with the Department of Labor. The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), relying on our decision in Rodrigue v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co., 395 U.S. 352 (1969), ruled that because Gray's work was totally involved in the exploration for, and development and transmission of, oil and gas from submerged lands, it was not relevant to traditional maritime law and lacked any significant maritime connection. Gray therefore did not satisfy the LHWCA's status requirement.

The Benefits Review Board reversed on other grounds. 12 BRBS 752 (1980). By a vote of 2-1, it concluded that irrespective of the nature of his employment, Gray could recover by virtue of a provision of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, 67 Stat. 462, 43 U. S. C. § 1331 et seq. (Lands Act), that

[ 470 U.S. Page 418]

     grants LHWCA benefits to offshore oil workers injured on the Outer Continental Shelf.*fn4 Although Gray had been injured in state waters, the Board felt that his injury nonetheless could be said to have occurred, in the words of the statute, "as a result of" operations on the outer shelf. It considered his work "integrally related" to such operations. 12 BRBS, at 757. The dissenting Board member argued that the Lands Act provides LHWCA benefits only for injuries actually occurring in the geographic area of the outer shelf. Id., at 761-763.

The Board reaffirmed its position after the case was remanded to the ALJ for entry of judgment and calculation of benefits, and petitioners sought review in the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. That court affirmed, relying directly on the LHWCA rather than on the Lands Act. 703 F.2d 176 (1983). With regard to the Act's situs requirement, it noted that this Court had compared drilling platforms to wharves in Rodrigue v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co., supra. Given that the 1972 Amendments to the LHWCA extended coverage to accidents occurring on wharves, it would be incongruous if they did not also reach accidents occurring on drilling platforms. Also, since workers injured on movable barges, on fixed platforms on the Outer Continental Shelf, or en route to fixed platforms, are all covered, there would be a "curious hole" in coverage if someone in Gray's position was not. 703 F.2d, at 177-178. As for Gray's status, the Court of Appeals, differing with the ALJ, held that Gray's work bore "a realistically significant

[ 470 U.S. Page 419]

     relationship to traditional maritime activity involving navigation and commerce on navigable waters," id., at 179-180, because it was an integral part of the offshore drilling process, which, the court had held in Pippen v. Shell Oil Co., 661 F.2d 378 (1981), was itself maritime commerce. We granted certiorari. 465 U.S. 1098 (1984).



When extractive operations first moved offshore, all claims for injuries on fixed platforms proceeded under state workers' compensation schemes. See Hearings, at 396, 409, 411. See also Robertson 993. With the 1953 passage of the Lands Act, Congress extended LHWCA coverage to oil workers more than three miles offshore. 43 U. S. C. § 1333(b). Because until 1972 the LHWCA itself extended coverage only to accidents occurring on navigable waters, 33 U. S. C. § 903 (1970 ed.), and because stationary rigs were considered to be islands, Rodrigue v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co., supra, oil rig workers inside the 3-mile limit were left to recover under state schemes. See, e. g., Freeman v. Chevron Oil Co., 517 F.2d 201 (CA5 1975); Gifford v. Aurand Mfg. Co., 207 So. 2d 160 (La. App. 1968). Any worker, inside or outside the 3-mile limit, who qualified as a seaman was not covered by the LHWCA, but could sue under the Jones Act, 46 U. S. C. § 688, the Death on the High Seas Act, 46 U. S. C. § 761 et seq., and the general maritime law. Hearings, at 411-414, 450-459, 487; see n. 1, supra. See also Wright, Jurisdiction in the Tidelands, 32 Tulane L. Rev. 175, 186 (1958).

So matters stood when Congress amended the LHWCA in 1972. What is known about the congressional intent behind that legislation has been amply described in our prior opinions. See, e. g., Director, OWCP v. Perini North River Associates, 459 U.S. 297 (1983); Sun Ship, Inc. v. Pennsylvania, 447 U.S. 715, 717-722 (1980); Northeast Marine

[ 470 U.S. Page 420]


The rationale of the Court of Appeals was that offshore drilling is maritime commerce and that anyone performing any task that is part and parcel of that activity is in maritime employment for LHWCA purposes. Since it is doubtful that an offshore driller will pay and maintain a worker on an offshore rig whose job is unnecessary to the venture, this approach would extend coverage to virtually everyone on the stationary platform. We think this construction of the Act is untenable.

The Act does not define the term "maritime employment," but our cases and the legislative history of the amendments foreclose the Court of Appeals' reading. Rodrigue involved two men killed while working on an offshore drilling rig on the Outer Continental Shelf. Their families brought third-party negligence suits in federal court, claiming recovery under both the Death on the High Seas Act and the state law of Louisiana. The District Court ruled that resort could not be had to state law and that the High Seas Act provided the exclusive remedy. The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed, holding that the men had been engaged in maritime activity on the high seas and that maritime law was the exclusive source of relief. We reversed. First, the platforms involved were artificial islands and were to be treated as though they were federal enclaves in an upland State. Federal law was to govern accidents occurring on these islands; but, contrary to the Court of Appeals, we held that the Lands Act and borrowed state law, not the maritime law, constituted the controlling federal law. The platforms "were islands, albeit artificial ones, and the accidents had no more connection with the ordinary stuff of admiralty than do

[ 470 U.S. Page 422]

     accidents on piers."*fn6 395 U.S., at 360. Indeed, observing that the Court had previously "held that drilling platforms are not within admiralty jurisdiction," we indicated that drilling platforms were not even suggestive of traditional maritime affairs. Id., at 360-361.

We also went on to examine the legislative history of the Lands Act and noted (1) that Congress was of the view that maritime law would not apply to fixed platforms unless a statute expressly so provided; and (2) that Congress had seriously considered applying maritime law to these platforms but had rejected that approach because it considered maritime law to be inapposite, a view that would be untenable if drilling from a fixed platform is a maritime operation. The history of the Lands Act at the very least forecloses the Court of Appeals' holding that offshore drilling is a maritime activity and that any task essential thereto is maritime employment for LHWCA purposes.*fn7

We cannot assume that Congress was unfamiliar with Rodrigue and the Lands Act when it referred to "maritime employment" in defining the term "employee" in 1972.*fn8 It

[ 470 U.S. Page 423]

     would have been a significant departure from prior understanding to use that phrase to reach stationary drilling rigs generally.

The Fifth Circuit's expansive view of maritime employment is also inconsistent with our prior cases under the 1972 Amendments to the LHWCA. The expansion of the definition of navigable waters to include rather large shoreside areas necessitated an affirmative description of the particular employees working in those areas who would be covered. This was the function of the maritime employment requirement. But Congress did not seek to cover all those who breathe salt air. Its purpose was to cover those workers on the situs who are involved in the essential elements of loading and unloading; it is "clear that persons who are on the situs but not engaged in the overall process of loading or unloading vessels are not covered." Northeast Marine Terminal Co. v. Caputo, 432 U.S., at 267. While "maritime employment" is not limited to the occupations specifically mentioned in § 2(3),*fn9 neither can it be read to eliminate any requirement

[ 470 U.S. Page 424]

     of a connection with the loading or construction of ships. As we have said, the "maritime employment" requirement is "an occupational test that focuses on loading and unloading." P. C. Pfeiffer Co. v. Ford, 444 U.S. 69, 80 (1979). The Amendments were not meant "to cover employees who are not engaged in loading, unloading, repairing, or building a vessel, just because they are injured in an area adjoining navigable waters used for such activity." H. R. Rep. No. 92-1441, p. 11 (1972); S. Rep. No. 92-1125, p. 13 (1972). We have never read "maritime employment" to extend so far beyond those actually involved in moving cargo between ship and land transportation. Both Caputo and P. C. Pfeiffer Co. make this clear and lead us to the conclusion that Gray was not engaged in maritime employment for purposes of the LHWCA.*fn10

[ 470 U.S. Page 425]

     Gray was a welder. His work had nothing to do with the loading or unloading process, nor is there any indication that he was even employed in the maintenance of equipment used in such tasks. Gray's welding work was far removed from traditional LHWCA activities, notwithstanding the fact that he unloaded his own gear upon arriving at a platform by boat. Tr. of Oral Arg. 56. He built and maintained pipelines and the platforms themselves. There is nothing inherently maritime about those tasks. They are also performed on land, and their nature is not significantly altered by the marine environment,*fn11 particularly since exploration and development of the Continental Shelf are not themselves maritime commerce.

The dissent emphasizes that Gray was generally on or near the water and faced maritime hazards. Post, at 445-449. To the extent this is so, it is relevant to "situs," not "status." To hold that Gray was necessarily engaged in maritime employment because he was on a drilling platform would ignore Congress' admonition that not everyone on a covered situs automatically satisfies the status test. See S. Rep. No. 92-1125, p. 13 (1972). The dissent considers "[the] maritime nature of the occupation . . . apparent from examining

[ 470 U.S. Page 426]

     its location in terms of the expanded situs coverage of the 1972 Amendments." Post, at 446. We recognize that the nature of a particular job is defined in part by its location. But to classify Gray's employment as maritime because he was on a covered situs, post, at 448, or in a "maritime environment," post, at 450, would blur together requirements Congress intended to be distinct. We cannot thus read the status requirement out of the statute.*fn12


Respondents, and the dissenters, object that denying coverage to someone in Gray's position will result in exactly the sort of inconsistent, checkered coverage that Congress sought to eliminate in 1972. In the words of the court below, it creates a "curious hole" in coverage, 703 F.2d, at 178, because Gray would have been covered had he been injured on navigable waters or on the outer shelf.

We do not find the argument compelling. First, this submission goes far beyond Congress' undoubted desire to treat equally all workers engaged in loading or unloading a ship, whether they were injured on the ship or on an adjoining pier or dock. The former were covered prior to 1972; the latter were not. Both are covered under the 1972 Amendments. Second, there will always be a boundary to coverage, and there will always be people who cross it during their employment. Nacirema Operating Co. v. Johnson, 396 U.S. 212, 223-224 (1969). If that phenomenon was enough to require coverage, the Act would have to reach much further than

[ 470 U.S. Page 427]

     anyone argues that it does or should. Third, the inconsistent coverage here results primarily from the explicit geographic limitation to the Lands Act's incorporation of the LHWCA. Gray would indeed have been covered for a significant portion of his work-time, but because of the Lands Act, not because he fell within the terms of the LHWCA.*fn13 Congress' desire to make LHWCA coverage uniform reveals little about the position of those for whom partial coverage results from a separate statute. This is especially true because that statute draws a clear geographical boundary that will predictably result in workers moving in and out of coverage.

As we have said before in this area, if Congress' coverage decisions are mistaken as a matter of policy, it is for Congress to change them. We should not legislate for them. See Victory Carriers, Inc. v. Law, 404 U.S. 202, 216 (1971).


Because Gray's employment was not "maritime," he does not qualify for benefits under the LHWCA. We need not determine whether he satisfied the Act's situs requirement. We express no opinion on his argument that he is covered by 43 U. S. C. § 1333(b). The judgment is reversed, and the

[ 470 U.S. Page 428]

     case is remanded to the Court of Appeals for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

It is so ordered.


703 F.2d 176 and 711 F.2d 666, reversed and remanded.


Today the Court holds that a marine petroleum worker is not covered by the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA or Act), 44 Stat. 1424, as amended, 33 U. S. C. § 901 et seq., when pursuing his occupation on a fixed offshore rig within the 3-mile limit of a State's territorial waters. Although such an individual routinely travels over water as an essential part of his job and performs the rest of his job adjacent to and surrounded by water, he is not covered because, in the Court's view, his occupation is not "maritime employment." See § 2(3), 33 U. S. C. § 902(3). The Court reaches this conclusion even though a worker of the same occupation, working in the same industry, and performing the same tasks on a rig located in the same place, would be covered if that rig were one that was capable of floating.*fn1 Neither the Court nor any of the parties have identified any reason why Congress might have

[ 470 U.S. Page 429]

     desired this distinction. To the contrary, a principal congressional goal behind the 1972 Amendments was to rid the Act of just such arbitrary distinctions derived from traditional admiralty jurisprudence. Because the coverage pattern that the Court adopts is at odds with the Act's 1972 Amendments, and because the accident here meets the Amendments' status and situs tests, I respectfully dissent.


At the outset, it is useful to examine the LHWCA's general coverage pattern, and, in particular, the purposes of its 1972 Amendments. Before 1972, LHWCA coverage was determined largely by the traditional "locality" test of maritime tort jurisdiction. Under that test, if an accident occurred on the navigable waters (which usually meant on a vessel) the worker was covered, no matter how close the accident may have been to the adjoining land or pier; in contrast, if an accident occurred on adjoining land, a pier, or a wharf there was only state coverage, no matter how close the accident may have been to the water's edge. See Nacirema Operating Co. v. Johnson, 396 U.S. 212 (1969). Cf. Victory Carriers v. Law, 404 U.S. 202 (1971). A longshoreman moving cargo from ship to pier was thus covered for injuries incurred on board the ship, but not for any injuries incurred after stepping onto the pier. Nacirema Operating Co., supra. See also P. C. Pfeiffer Co. v. Ford, 444 U.S. 69, 72 (1979) ("A single situs requirement . . . governed the scope of [the Act's] coverage").

Behind this system of "checkered coverage" stood the reality that federal and state workers' compensation schemes usually had very different benefit levels, the state benefit levels often being inadequate. See n. 2, infra. Thus, those workers whose professional lives might require that they move back and forth between water and adjoining land -- "amphibious workers" -- and whose protection was the principal goal of the LHWCA, had to rely for workers' compensation on an imperfect amalgam of federal and state workers'

[ 470 U.S. Page 430]

     compensation laws. As critics noted, the system's adequacy in any given case was a function of the pure fortuity of a work-related accident's exact location.*fn2

In 1972, Congress amended the Act, expanding coverage landward as a means of rationalizing the coverage pattern. This case involves two of the principal Amendments. First, Congress expanded the situs of coverage to include those areas immediately adjacent to the water, in which maritime workers would be likely to spend a large part of their working lives. The Act would now cover "disability or death [resulting] from an injury occurring upon the navigable waters of the United States (including any adjoining pier, wharf, dry dock, terminal, building way, marine railway, or other adjoining area customarily used by an employer in loading, unloading, repairing, or building a vessel) . . . ." § 3(a), 33 U. S. C. § 903(a) (emphasis added). Congress thus broke with the tradition of applying the strict locality test of admiralty tort jurisdiction to limit LHWCA's coverage.

But if only the situs of coverage had been altered, a new problem would have been created. Expanding the situs landward would not only have brought uniform coverage to those occupations previously covered in part, it would also have brought within the covered situs large numbers of occupations whose members had never before been covered at all. Workers such as truckdrivers or clericals, though present

[ 470 U.S. Page 431]

     on a pier at certain times as part of their employment, are engaging in purely land-bound, rather than amphibious, occupations. See Northeast Marine Terminal Co. v. Caputo, 432 U.S. 249, 267 (1977); S. Rep. 13; H. R. Rep. 10-11. To expand coverage to these workers, whose work lives take them back and forth between newly covered "adjoining [areas]" and uncovered inland locations, would create a serious demarcation line problem, and would also obviously recreate, and even enlarge, the problem of "checkered coverage" based on the fortuity of the exact location of a particular injury. Thus, Congress adopted a "status" test for coverage to exclude members of these land-bound occupations. "The 1972 Amendments thus changed what had been essentially only a 'situs' test of eligibility for compensation to one looking to both the 'situs' of the injury and the 'status' of the injured." See Caputo, supra, at 264-265.

Under the "status" test, coverage was limited to those "engaged in maritime employment." § 2(3), 33 U. S. C. § 902(3):

"The term 'employee' means any person engaged in maritime employment, including any longshoreman or other person engaged in longshoring operations, and any harborworker including a ship repairman, shipbuilder, and shipbreaker . . . ."*fn3

Both changes together were part of an effort to rationalize the Act's coverage pattern. Congress wanted a system that did not depend on the "fortuitous circumstance of whether the injury occurred on land or over water," S. Rep. 13; H. R. Rep. 10-11, and it wanted a "uniform compensation system to apply to employees who would otherwise be covered . . .

[ 470 U.S. Page 432]

     for part of their activity." Ibid . Analyzing this case in terms of Congress' stated goals and in terms of this Court's prior efforts to give meaning to the 1972 Amendments makes clear that the Act applies to marine petroleum workers such as Gray.

Workers on fixed offshore rigs are "amphibious workers" who spend almost their entire worklife either traveling on the navigable waters or laboring on statutorily covered pier-like areas immediately adjacent thereto. They are exposed on a daily basis to hazards associated with maritime employment. And most important, given the fact that workers on floating rigs are covered by the Act, the Court's result recreates exactly the type of "incongruous" coverage distinctions that Congress specifically sought to eliminate in 1972.


The Court analyzes only the "maritime employment" status test, finding that that issue disposes of the case and makes unnecessary any discussion of "situs." Although the Court starts its analysis from the premise that "[the] Act does not define the term 'maritime employment,'" ante, at 421, its own analysis of the term is quite conclusory and inadequate. The Court focuses on traditional admiralty law's treatment of fixed petroleum platforms, as found in a 1969 admiralty decision of this Court and a 1953 statute. It thus ignores that it was precisely the desire to break with traditional admiralty law's rigid locality-based distinctions that motivated Congress' passage of the 1972 LHWCA Amendments. Although the pre-1972 law cited by the Court was specifically based on those distinctions, the Court concludes that that law "[forecloses]" the possibility that these workers might be engaged in "maritime employment." Ibid. The Court thus offers a conclusion that comports neither with the structure of the 1972 Amendments nor with our prior cases interpreting the Amendments' purposes. Instead, it derives its conclusion from straightforward pre-1972 applications of the very admiralty law concept that the 1972 Amendments

[ 470 U.S. Page 433]

     were intended to eliminate as a limit on LHWCA coverage -- the concept that coverage should stop at the water's edge.


The Court constructs its interpretation of "maritime employment" around the premise that the 1972 Congress had no desire to alter the law of Rodrigue v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co., 395 U.S. 352 (1969), a pre-1972 admiralty case that had nothing to do with the LHWCA. In Rodrigue, wrongful-death actions were brought in admiralty under the Death on the High Seas Act, 41 Stat. 537, 46 U. S. C. § 761 et seq., when two petroleum workers were killed on fixed offshore platforms on the Outer Continental Shelf. One worker was killed using a crane on a platform to unload a barge, the other fell from a derrick high above a platform. Rodrigue presented the issue of whether admiralty jurisdiction existed with regard to these accidents, either by its own force or by force of the 1953 Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (Lands Act), 67 Stat. 462, 43 U. S. C. § 1331 et seq. (prescribing choice of law to govern the Outer Continental Shelf). We unanimously held that traditional admiralty jurisdiction did not reach the situs of a fixed offshore rig, and that Congress, in passing the Lands Act, did not desire to alter this result.

The Rodrigue Court's reasoning as to admiralty law's inapplicability was straightforward, and is best found in a statement that has substantial irony, given the current Court's insistence that Rodrigue tells us what Congress meant in the 1972 LHWCA Amendments: The Rodrigue Court declared that "[admiralty] jurisdiction has not been construed to extend to accidents on piers, jetties, bridges, or even ramps or railways running into the sea." 395 U.S., at 360. Rodrigue concluded, as the Court now emphasizes, that drilling platforms have "'no more connection with the ordinary stuff of admiralty than do accidents on piers.'" Ante, at 421-422 (quoting 395 U.S., at 360). This may be so, but it is clear that the 1972 LHWCA Amendments were intended to expand LHWCA coverage well beyond the bounds of

[ 470 U.S. Page 434]

     traditional admiralty law. Most obviously, they were meant to reach accidents on the very piers that Rodrigue had analogized to fixed oil platforms. § 3(a), 33 U. S. C. § 903(a). Rodrigue correctly stated that fixed platforms (like piers), are localities unconnected with "the ordinary stuff of admiralty." 395 U.S., at 360. However, it is just as clear that the very purpose of the 1972 Amendments was to expand LHWCA coverage beyond the "ordinary stuff" of traditional admiralty jurisprudence.*fn4

That Rodrigue 's holding was based on the application of admiralty's traditional locality test cannot be doubted, and it would likely have been so understood by Congress in 1972. For example, just prior to the 1972 LHWCA Amendments' passage, this Court cited Rodrigue as one of more than 40 cases following the traditional view that "'[in] regard to torts . . . the jurisdiction of the admiralty is exclusively dependent upon the locality of the act.'"*fn5 Given this basis of Rodrigue, there is simply no necessary relation between that case and the meaning of the "maritime employment" status test under

[ 470 U.S. Page 435]

     the post-1972 LHWCA. Rather than mandate a result in the instant case, Rodrigue is irrelevant to its disposition.*fn6


The Court also focuses on the legislative history of the 1953 Lands Act, as discussed in Rodrigue, to show that long before the 1972 Amendments Congress had determined that workers on fixed platforms were not "engaged in maritime activity." Ante, at 422-423. But the 1953 determination was simply to provide law for the Outer Continental Shelf without altering the traditional locality test of admiralty coverage. There is no reason to assume that that decision governs the meaning of a 1972 statute that had nothing to do with the Outer Continental Shelf and was otherwise explicitly meant to alter this very admiralty rule. In that sense, the congressional intent behind the Lands Act might be as

[ 470 U.S. Page 436]

     irrelevant to this case as is Rodrigue 's discussion of traditional admiralty tort locality.

The irrelevance of Rodrigue 's Lands Act analysis can best be seen by examining the point in the legislative history that Rodrigue most emphasized: The Lands Act Congress chose not to adopt admiralty law as the exclusive law for Outer Continental Shelf fixed platform workers because of those workers' close ties to shore communities. 395 U.S., at 361-365. Those ties gave offshore workers and shore communities a shared interest in those workers' continued access to state protective legislation. Id., at 362. Because of this, the Lands Act Congress viewed "maritime law [as] inapposite to . . . fixed structures," id., at 363; but that supports no inference that in 1972 Congress desired to exclude these workers from the LHWCA definition of "maritime employment."

In 1972, Congress clearly did not seek to limit LHWCA coverage according to a worker's connection to the shoreside community, and indeed, it is hard to argue that that was ever a factor limiting LHWCA coverage. First, the principal targets of both the 1972 expansion of coverage and the initial 1927 Act were longshoremen and harborworkers; both are groups significantly more closely tied to their shoreside communities than are offshore petroleum workers.*fn7 Second, Congress was well aware that workers on floating rigs had a long history of coverage under the LHWCA, see n. 1, supra, and yet they are not argued to be less "connected" to the

[ 470 U.S. Page 437]

     shore communities than are those on fixed platforms. Third, and most important, Congress provided that post-1972 LHWCA coverage -- unlike traditional admiralty law coverage -- would not deprive a worker of access to state remedies. "[The] 1972 extension of federal jurisdiction supplements, rather than supplants, state compensation law." Sun Ship, Inc. v. Pennsylvania, 447 U.S. 715, 720 (1980). Congress thus made clear that there would be no incompatibility between "maritime" status and a close connection to the shoreside State.

In general, a close connection between an arguably "maritime" occupation and the shoreside community may very well form the basis of a decision not to exclusively apply admiralty law coverage to the affairs of that occupation. Indeed, that is just the rationale Rodrigue attributed to the Congress that passed the Lands Act. But, as is shown by the above factors, the same rationale cannot explain the coverage of the post-1972 LHWCA.*fn8

Although Rodrigue 's analysis of the Lands Act is largely irrelevant to the issues in the instant case, a closer examination of the Lands Act as a whole reveals that its authors held views which actually support coverage in this case. In a number of instances unrelated to the Rodrigue case, the Lands Act evidences a congressional understanding that work on fixed offshore platforms has maritime attributes. Even though the Lands Act did not generally apply admiralty law to fixed rigs on the Outer Continental Shelf, it also did not leave the law of worker safety in the exclusive hands of the States. First, it explicitly provided for LHWCA coverage of Outer Continental Shelf fixed platform workers. See 43 U. S. C. § 1333(b). While application of the LHWCA to a locale does not necessarily indicate a congressional determination

[ 470 U.S. Page 438]

     that the locale's activities are in some sense "maritime,"*fn9 the Lands Act goes substantially beyond this in indicating that there is a "maritime" component to worker safety problems on fixed oil rigs. In particular, Congress chose to vest authority for general safety regulation of fixed or floating platforms on the Outer Continental Shelf in the Coast Guard, "the agency traditionally charged with regulation and enforcement of maritime matters." Pure Oil Co. v. Snipes, 293 F.2d 60, 66 (CA5 1961). See 43 U. S. C. § 1333(d). In accordance with that authorization, the Coast Guard promptly promulgated a code of safety regulations that reflected the existence of the same sort of hazards on these rigs as one would associate with "maritime" environments. See 21 Fed. Reg. 900 (1956).*fn10 Thus Congress and the Coast Guard have recognized that the offshore locality of platform workers' work significantly affects their working conditions.


The Court's analysis in the instant case is flawed not only because it uses particularly irrelevant pre-1972 decisions to define the outer boundaries of "maritime employment," but

[ 470 U.S. Page 439]

     also because its premise, that Congress understood "maritime employment" to be a clear pre-1972 concept, is itself highly suspect. In Director, OWCP v. Perini North River Associates, 459 U.S. 297 (1983), we emphasized that "maritime status" was a concept with little if any history in the LHWCA before the 1972 Amendments. See id., at 307, n. 17. Its only appearance was in the requirement that an employee, to be covered, had to be employed by an employer "any of whose employees [were] employed in maritime employment, in whole or in part, upon the navigable waters of the United States (including any dry dock)." § 2(4), 33 U. S. C. § 902(4) (1970 ed.). Despite this language, "there was little litigation concerning whether an employee was in 'maritime employment' for purposes of being the employee of a statutory employer." Perini, supra, at 309-310. As a leading treatise describes the pre-1972 situation: "Workers who are not seamen but who nevertheless suffer injury on navigable waters are no doubt (or so the courts have been willing to assume) engaged in 'maritime employment' . . . . [No] one seems to have doubted that they could recover under [LHWCA], provided only that the proof satisfied the 'navigable waters' test." G. Gilmore & C. Black, Law of Admiralty 428-430 (2d ed. 1975). Thus, in 1972, there was no well-defined occupational status concept of "maritime employment" within LHWCA jurisprudence. To the extent the concept had any pre-existing meaning, it implied very wide coverage of workers whose occupations required any regular presence on navigable waters. Cf. Perini, supra.*fn11

[ 470 U.S. Page 440]


After erroneously determining that its decision in this case is mandated by Rodrigue and the legislative history of the Lands Act, the Court turns to its formulation of a "test" for "maritime employment." Its discussion of the statutory language, legislative history, and prior Court interpretations of the "maritime employment" provision of § 2(3) is quite brief. Much of it is little more than a determination that in our prior cases and in the legislative history offshore drilling work was never specifically stated to be covered by the statute. See ante, at 423-424. Of course, none of these sources had ever purported to offer an exclusive list of covered occupations, and as the Court agrees, we have previously read the "maritime employment" concept as "not limited to the occupations specifically mentioned in § 2(3)." Ante, at 423. Nevertheless, the Court's analysis presumes there is little coverage outside the specific occupations listed.

The only "test" that the Court comes close to announcing seems to involve an inquiry into whether an occupation is sufficiently related to maritime commerce (which seems to be confined to ship construction and cargo moving, ante, at 423-424) for it to be within a class of tasks "inherently maritime." Ante, at 425. The Court offers no justification for why the category should be so limited, nor does it seriously evaluate whether fixed offshore rig workers could fall into the category

[ 470 U.S. Page 441]

     of "maritime commerce." The content of such a category is not as self-evident as the Court assumes,*fn12 nor would all agree that offshore rig workers are self-evidently "non-maritime."*fn13

This "test" is adopted in spite of the fact that no prior decisions of this Court have held the status test to be so limited. Caputo and P. C. Pfeiffer Co. which the Court cites as if they had established those limits, ante, at 423-424, were decisions that analyzed the concept of occupational status as it applied to different aspects of longshoring operations. Although those decisions contain important discussions concerning the structure and history of the Act, the only discussions on the limits of "maritime employment" were within the particular factual setting of those cases, that is, the decisions only sought to distinguish among those occupations normally found on a pier during the loading and unloading of a

[ 470 U.S. Page 442]

     ship. The decisions did not purport to limit the Act's coverage to that particular setting, nor did they try to define any precise limits for the occupational status test outside that setting.

In Perini, we held that a construction worker injured while working on a barge during the construction of a riverside sewage treatment plant was "engaged in maritime employment." Although Perini 's precise holding concerned only the occupational status of a worker injured while required to be on the actual navigable waters, the necessary implications of that holding are of course not limited to the facts of that case. The Court reads Perini as having no importance to an understanding of what the term "maritime employment" might mean outside the situation where a worker is injured on the actual navigable waters. Ante, at 424-425, n. 10. But the statute applies the term "maritime employment" to all coverage situations, with no hint that its meaning should radically change depending on an injury's exact situs. See P. C. Pfeiffer Co., 444 U.S., at 78-79. Nor does the Act's structure or language allow for an interpretation that, in effect, exempts workers injured on the actual navigable waters from the requirement that they be "engaged in maritime employment." Perini declined to rest on a rationale that focused only on the situs of the injury. It instead saw location as significant principally because an occupation's location is an aspect of the occupation's status.

"[We] emphasize that we in no way hold that Congress meant for such employees to receive LHWCA coverage merely by meeting the situs test, and without any regard to the 'maritime employment' language. . . . We consider those employees to be 'engaged in maritime employment' not simply because they are injured in a historically maritime locale, but because they are required to perform their employment duties upon navigable waters." 459 U.S., at 323-324.

[ 470 U.S. Page 443]

     Although in the instant case the particular injury did not occur on the actual navigable waters, and in Perini it did, Gray's work did involve his repeated and required presence on the navigable waters. Perini and its approach to the status test are thus highly relevant.

Perini is also relevant because it repeatedly refused to rest its holding on any inquiry into whether the claimant's work had a "direct" or "substantial relation" to navigation or traditional notions of maritime commerce. See Perini, 459 U.S., at 311, n. 21, 315, 318. Such a test was urged on the Court as a test that would deny coverage to the claimant, and Perini, after extensively discussing the Act's history, see n. 11, supra, firmly concluded that the 1972 Congress did not mean to incorporate such an inquiry into the analysis of occupational status. The Court today offers an analysis quite close to that which Perini explicitly rejected.


To determine whether an offshore fixed platform worker is "engaged in maritime employment" the Court should have turned to three principles that we have previously applied to such questions. First, prior cases make clear that we must interpret coverage in light of the overall purposes of the Act. A major purpose of the 1972 Amendments was to eliminate those aspects of the prior system that made coverage depend on the "fortuitous circumstance of whether the injury occurred on land or over water," S. Rep., at 13; H. R. Rep., at 10, and to provide workers with a "uniform compensation system to apply to employees who would otherwise be covered by this Act for part of their activity." Id., at 10-11. Cf. Sun Ship, 447 U.S., at 725-726 ("The legislative policy animating the LHWCA's landward shift was remedial [and] the amendments' framers acted out of solicitude for the workers").

Second, we have said that Congress' concerns in extending coverage went beyond a concern for the exact locations of any

[ 470 U.S. Page 444]

     particular worker's work routine, and in that sense "maritime employment" is an "occupational rather than a geographic concept." P. C. Pfeiffer Co., supra, at 79.

Third, we have said that a major factor in the determination of "maritime employment" is whether the members of an occupation are "required to perform their employment duties upon navigable waters." Perini, supra, at 323-324.


In applying these principles to this case, it becomes clear that offshore fixed oil platform workers should be considered in "maritime employment." When viewed from an occupational perspective, it is a glaring fact that unless classified as Jones Act seamen, see n. 3, supra, all offshore oil rig workers who work on floating rigs are engaged in maritime employment for LHWCA purposes, for they all must work "on the actual navigable waters." See Perini, supra, at 323. See also n. 1, supra. Other than the fact that their rigs were a traditional admiralty situs, there is little to distinguish the job or location of a worker on a floating rig from those of a worker on a fixed rig. Physically, the structures may be quite similar.*fn14 For example, they are similarly small,*fn15 relatively isolated, and totally surrounded by the sea. The two types of structures are parts of similar enterprises and operations

[ 470 U.S. Page 445]

     that are carried out in the same marine environment. Indeed, other than for the type of structure, the locations of the work are the same. Moreover, the work tasks are quite similar, as are the working conditions and hazards.*fn16 I can therefore see no reason to believe that Congress, in passing a measure designed to rationalize coverage patterns through an occupational test for coverage, would have wanted to treat these workers as belonging to two different occupations, one maritime and the other nonmaritime.*fn17

In Perini we held that the fact that a worker is required to work over the actual navigable waters is weighty evidence of his or her maritime status. 459 U.S., at 323-324. This holding clearly calls for the inclusion of fixed rig workers within the maritime employment classification. Here, Gray's job was to do welding, as needed, on oil rigs scattered over the Bay Marchand oil field. He was thus required to live

[ 470 U.S. Page 446]

     on a rig and regularly travel back and forth over water among the rigs in the oil field. The argument that Gray performed work over the actual navigable waters is trivialized by the Court when it characterizes him as "a worker whose job is entirely land-based but who takes a boat to work." Ante, at 427, n. 13. This was not simply the life of a land-based commuter who chose to travel to work by boat, it is the life of someone required to live and work in a marine environment and to engage in ocean travel as an integral part of his job duties. When traveling among the rigs he was no less at work than when he was on a rig doing welding jobs, so his job is one that requires his presence on the actual navigable waters.

The maritime nature of the occupation is even more apparent from examining its location in terms of the expanded situs coverage of the 1972 Amendments. Assuming that a fixed offshore platform is a covered situs under § 3(a), then fixed platform workers could not simply be termed "land-based" workers. Ibid. Unlike typical "land-based" workers, they would spend virtually their entire work lives within the statute's covered "maritime situs" -- that is, either on or immediately adjacent to the actual navigable waters. This is in fact the situation here, for a fixed offshore oil rig easily fits into § 3(a)'s situs test.

Section 3(a) provides that coverage extends to any "pier, wharf, dry dock, terminal, building way, marine railway, or other . . . area [adjoining the navigable waters] customarily used by an employer in loading, unloading, repairing, or building a vessel." 33 U. S. C. § 903(a). This describes the typical fixed offshore oil rig. Since a fixed rig is of limited size and completely surrounded by water, all materials and workers on the rig are brought there and unloaded over water, and thus a customary use of the rig is the loading and unloading of cargo and people. One commentator has characterized the situation as follows:

[ 470 U.S. Page 447]

     "Worker transportation is one of the most basic problems associated with offshore operations. Transportation is accomplished either by boats or helicopters. High-speed crew boats transport work crews when time is available and the distance is less than about 50 miles. Helicopters transport crews and other personnel over long distances or when time is important. The transportation of equipment to offshore rigs is accomplished with work boats. These boats . . . are versatile, high powered, and essential to offshore operations. Thus, all platforms must be provided with mooring bits, bumpers, cranes, stairs, etc., for use with work boats and crew boats." W. Graff, Introduction to Offshore Structures 3 (1981).

The rig is thus an "area [adjoining the navigable waters] customarily used by an employer in loading [or] unloading . . . a vessel." § 3(a), 33 U. S. C. § 903(a).

Fixed rigs are also physically quite analogous to piers or wharves. They are of limited size, see n. 15, supra, so a worker almost anywhere on the deck would be aware of his close proximity to the water. Similarly, the decks are elevated over the water, built to provide access to the water, and situated so that working conditions are influenced by the surrounding marine environment. Given these factors, I have little problem classifying the whole of the platform as a covered situs,*fn18 either because it is an "other adjoining area customarily used by an employer in loading [or] unloading" or because it is analogous to a pier or wharf facility.

Given this determination, a fixed platform worker is quite distinct from the truckdriver or clerical worker who in the

[ 470 U.S. Page 448]

     legislative history exemplifies the nonmaritime worker. See supra, at 430-431. Truckdrivers or clericals are land-bound workers whose work never takes them on the actual navigable waters, and only sporadically takes them on the pier-like areas brought under the LHWCA's coverage by the 1972 Amendments. The greatest part of their work is done in inland locales that are clearly beyond the coverage of the Act. Therefore, coverage of these workers under the Act could at most be "checkered" and "fortuitous." Avoiding such wide-spread "checkered coverage" was an envisioned function of the status test. See supra, at 430-432. Fixed rig workers, in contrast, are in a position to benefit from uniform coverage if classified as "maritime," for they are on a covered situs for the overwhelming part of their work. Classifying them as "maritime" in light of their constant and required presence on a covered situs conforms to Congress' desire for uniform coverage of those workers who would otherwise be partially covered. Under the Court's approach, they remain only partially covered.

A last reason for classifying these workers as maritime is that they face working conditions and hazards associated with their maritime location. This was clearly stated in the testimony of a high official of an offshore drilling company before a recent congressional hearing on offshore worker safety:

"Offshore work has a special set of concerns because we are a hybrid industry. In one sense, we are an onshore industry that initially crept out over the water. But it is equally fair to characterize us as a maritime industry, the same as the merchant marine or any other.

"In point of fact, we share all of the concerns of both the drilling and maritime industries, plus a few uniquely ours."*fn19

[ 470 U.S. Page 449]

     The same sentiment is recognized in the delegation of regulatory authority to the Coast Guard and in the Coast Guard regulations, see n. 10, supra, and accompanying text, and has been noted by legal and occupational health authorities.*fn20 Clearly these workers do far more than just "breathe salt air." See ante, at 423.


The Court supports its conclusion that fixed offshore oil rig workers are nonmaritime by arguing that their work is similar to drilling work done on land. But this reasoning must fail for a number of reasons. First, it ignores that while the work is similar to work done on land, it is virtually identical to work on floating oil rigs -- which is clearly maritime.

Second, the Court's reasoning ignores that many indisputably maritime occupations are quite analogous to nonmaritime occupations. A forklift or crane operator who moves cargo on a pier and a "checker" who inventories that cargo are considered longshoremen with maritime status, even though their work may be quite similar to that of inland workers in a warehousing operation. See Caputo, 432 U.S., at 249 ("checker" was engaged in "maritime employment"); see also Perini, 459 U.S. 297 (1983) (construction worker may be engaged in "maritime employment"). The issue is not whether job duties are similar to those of nonmaritime workers, but whether the enterprise in question

[ 470 U.S. Page 450]

     necessitates that work be done in a maritime environment. Longshoring work, regardless of its similarity to other jobs, must be done on or adjacent to the navigable waters. Similarly, the extraction of oil from beneath the ocean floor necessitates that certain tasks be done over and adjacent to the ocean.

Third, the Court's reasoning ignores that whatever the similarities to land-based work, the work schedules, working conditions, and job hazards of offshore workers are in some ways quite different from their land-based counterparts. And most of the differences are the result of the offshore workers' proximity to the sea. See supra, at 448-449.


For the reasons discussed above, respondent Gray was "engaged in maritime employment" within the meaning of § 2(3) of the Act. It is also clear that a fixed offshore petroleum platform is a covered situs within the meaning of § 3(a) of the Act. I would thus affirm the Court of Appeals.


* Briefs of amici curiae urging reversal were filed for the Kerr-McGee Corp. by Christopher Tompkins and Rene H. Himel, Jr.; and for Texaco, Inc., et al. by Robert M. Contois, Jr.

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