Lawrence County, Ohio
Lawrence County borders the Ohio River at the southernmost part of Ohio. It is one of the core counties in the Huntington, West Virginia, Ashland, Kentucky and Ironton, Ohio Tri-State region. The county has a population of over 62,000 with the county seat at Ironton.
Boyd County, Kentucky and Cabell County, West Virginia are easily accessible from any of the six bridges spanning the Ohio River from Lawrence County. Construction is underway on the Ironton-Russell Bridge replacement. This is the largest ODOT construction project ever awarded. Completion of the project is expected in the fall of 2015. This massive multi-year project with an estimated cost of more than $84,000,000 will facilitate job creation on, near and above the river. The river provides recreation and is the source of employment for many Lawrence County citizens.
Companies such as McGinnis, Inc., Ashland Oil and Economy Barge Repair hire many workers from Lawrence County. Workers who are employed by these and other companies on the Ohio River and Big Sandy River are covered by a different workers’ compensation system than land based workers. If, for example, a McGinnis, Inc. worker based at South Point performs job tasks such as repairing and maintaining barges and tow boats and occasionally rides the boats up and down the river, he/she may be covered by the Longshore Act or by the Jones Act/General Maritime Laws. If the worker rarely rides the boats in navigation, is not a crew member and does not leave the dock, he/she is most likely covered by the Longshore Act. Each case is separate and requires a detailed review of the specific facts of a worker's employment. Generally, a worker on a dock, pier, wharf or adjoining marine area may be entitled to the protection of the federal Longshore Act. A worker who rides the boats in navigation from South Point or North Kenova up and down the Ohio River and Big Sandy River may be entitled to the protection of the Jones Act and General Maritime Laws of the Unites States of America.
A bridge worker such as someone constructing the Ironton-Russell replacement bridge might be covered under the Jones Act, the Longshore Act or state workers’ compensation. If the worker is assigned to a vessel bringing supplies to the bridge construction site and spends a significant portion of his/her time travelling on the navigable waters of the Ohio River as a crew member, Jones Act coverage may apply. If an employee is working off of a stationary platform or deck barge in the Ohio River, he/she may be covered under the Longshore Act. If the worker does not work on the water, but only on the bridge extending across the Ohio River from Ironton to Russell, he/she may be covered by state workers’ compensation.