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Text of the
Defense Base Act

Public -- No. 208 -- 77th Congress Passed August 16, 1941, as amended S. 1642


[Public--No. 208--77th Congress Passed August 16, 1941, as Amended]
S. 1642
An Act To provide compensation for disability or death to persons employed at military, air, and naval bases outside the United
States.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
Section 1. Compensation Authorized
(a) Places of employment.
Except as herein modified the provisions of the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act as amended, shall apply
in respect to the injury or death of any employee engaged in any employment—
1.        at any military, air, or naval base acquired after January 1, 1940, by the United States from any foreign government; or
2.        upon any lands occupied or used by the United States for military or naval purposes in any Territory or possession
outside the continental United States (including the United States Naval Operating Base, Guantanamo Bay. Cuba; and the Canal
Zone; or
3.        upon any public work in any Territory or possession outside the continental United States (including the United States
Naval Operating Base, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and the Canal Zone), if such employee is engaged in employment at such place
under the contract of a contractor (or any subcontractor or subordinate subcontractor with respect to the contract of such
contractor) with the United States; but nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to apply to any employee of such a
contractor or subcontractor who is engaged exclusively in furnishing materials or supplies under his contract;
4.        under a contract entered into with the United States or any executive department, independent establishment, or agency
thereof (including any corporate instrumentality of the United States), or any subcontract, or subordinate contract with respect
to such contract, where such contract is to be performed outside the continental United States and at places not within the areas
described in subparagraphs (1), (2), and (3) of this subdivision, for the purpose of engaging in public work, and every such
contract shall contain provisions requiring that the contractor (and subcontractor or subordinate contractor with respect to such
contract) (1) shall, before commencing performance of such contract, provide for securing to or on behalf of employees
engaged in such Public work under such contract the payment of compensation and other benefits under the provisions of this
Act, and (2) shall maintain in full force and effect during the term of such contract, subcontract, or subordinate contract or
while employees are engaged in ,work performed thereunder, the said security for the payment of such compensation and
benefits but nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to apply to any employee of such contractor or subcontractor who is
engaged exclusively in furnishing materials or supplies under his contract;
5.        under a contract approved and financed by the United States or any executive department, independent establishment, or
agency thereof (including any corporate instrumentality of the United States), or any subcontract or subordinate contract with
respect to such contrac4 where such contract is to be performed outside the continental United States, under the Mutual
Security Act of 1954 as amended (other than title II of chapter II thereof unless the Secretary of labor, upon the
recommendation of the head of any department or other agency of the United States, determines a contract financed under a
successor provision of any successor Act should be covered by this section), and not otherwise within the coverage of this
section, and every such contract shall contain provisions requiring that the contractor (and subcontractor or subordinate
contractor with respect to such contract) (A) shall, before commencing performance of such contract, provide for securing to
or on behalf of employees engaged in work under such contract the payment of compensation and other benefits under the
provisions of this Act, and (B) shall maintain in full force and effect during the term of such contract., subcontract, or
subordinate contract, or while employees are engaged in work performed thereunder, the said security for the payment of such
compensation and benefits, but nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to apply to any employee of such contractor or
subcontractor who is engaged exclusively in furnishing materials or supplies under his contract;
6.        outside the continental United States by an American employer providing welfare or similar services for the benefit of the
Armed Forces pursuant to appropriate authorization by the Secretary of Defense; irrespective of the place where the injury or
death occurs, and shall include any injury or death occurring to any such employee during transportation to or from his place of
employment, where the employer or the United States provides the transportation or the cost thereof.
(b) Definitions.
As used in this section–
1.        the term "public work" means any fixed improvement or any project, whether or not fixed, involving construction,
alteration, removal or repair for the public use of the United States or its allies, including but not limited to projects or operations
under service contracts and projects in connection with the national defense or with war activities, dredging, harbor
improvements, dams, roadways, and housing, as well as preparatory and ancillary work in connection therewith at the site or on
the project;
2.        the term "allies" means any nation with which the United States is engaged in a common military effort or with which the
United States has entered into a common defensive military alliance;
3.        the term "war activities" includes' activities directly relating to military operations;
4.        the term "continental United States" means the States and the District of Columbia.
(c) Liability as exclusive. The liability of an employer, contractor (or any subcontractor or subordinate subcontractor with
respect to the contract of such contractor) under this Act shall be exclusive and in place of all other liability of such employer,
contractor, subcontractor, or subordinate contractor to his employees (and their dependents) coming within the purview of this
Act, under the workmen's compensation law of any State, Territory, or other jurisdiction, irrespective of the place where the
contractor hire of any such employee may have been made or entered into.
(d) Definition of contractor. As used in this section, the term "contractor" means any individual, partnership, corporation, or
association, and includes any trustee, receiver, assignee, successor, or personal representative thereof, and the rights,
obligations, liability, and duties of the employer under such longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act shall be
applicable to such contractor.
(e) Contracts within section; waiver of application of section.
The liability under this Act of a contractor, subcontractor, or subordinate contractor engaged in public work under
subparagraphs (3) and (4), subdivision (a) of this section, and the conditions set forth therein, shall become applicable to
contracts and subcontracts heretofore entered into but not completed at the time of the approval of this Act, and the liability
under this Act of a contractor, subcontractor, or subordinate contractor engaged in performance of contracts, subcontracts, or
subordinate contracts specified in subparagraph (5), subdivision (a) of this section, and the conditions set forth therein, shall
hereafter be applicable to the remaining terms of such contracts, subcontracts, and subordinate contracts entered into prior to
but not completed on the date of enactment of any successor Act to the Mutual Security Act of 1954, as amended, and
contracting officers of the United States am authorized to make such modifications and amendments of existing contracts as
may be necessary to bring such contracts into conformity with the provisions of this Act. No right shall arise in say employee or
his dependent under subparagraphs (3) and (4) of subdivision (a) of this section, prior to two months after the approval of this
Act. Upon the recommendation of the head of any department, or other agency of the United States, the Secretary of Labor, in
the exercise of his discretion, may waive the application of this section with respect to any contract, subcontract, or subordinate
contract, work location under such contracts or classification of employees. Upon recommendation, of any employer referred to
in paragraph (6) of subsection (a) of this section the Secretary of Labor may waive the application of this season to any
employee or class of employees of such employer, or to any place of employment of such an employee or class of employees.
(f ) Liability to prisoners of war and protected persons.
The liability under this Act of a contractor, subcontractor, or subordinate contractor engaged in public work under paragraphs
(1), (2), (3) , and (4) ,of subsection (a) of this section or in any work under subparagraph (5) of subsection (a) of this section
does not apply with respect to any person who is a prisoner of war or a protected person under the Geneva Conventions of 1949
and who is detained or utilized by the United States.
Section 2. Computation Of Benefits: Application To Aliens And Nonnationals
(a) The minimum limit on weekly compensation for disability, established by section 6(b), and the minimum limit on the average
weekly wages on which death benefits are to be computed, established by section 9(e) of the Longshoremen's and Harbor
Workers' Compensation Act, shall not apply in computing compensation and death benefits under this Act.
(b) Compensation for permanent total or permanent partial disability under section 8 (c) of the Longshoremen's and Harbor
Workers' Compensation Act, or for death under this Act to aliens and nonnationals of the United States not residents of the
United States or Canada shall be in the same amount as provided for residents, except that dependents in any foreign country
shall be limited to surviving wife and child or children, or if there be no surviving wife or child or children, to surviving father or
mother whom the employee has supported either wholly or in part, for a period of one year immediately prior to the date of the
injury, and except that the Secretary of Labor may, at his opinion or upon the application of the insurance carrier shall, commute
all future installments of compensation to be paid to them one-half of the commuted amount of such future installments of
compensation as determined by the Secretary.
Section 3. Compensation Districts: Judicial Proceedings
(a) The Secretary of Labor is authorized to extend compensation districts established under the Longshoremen's and Harbor
Workers' Compensation Act, or to establish new compensation districts, to include any area to which this Act applies; and to
assign to each such district one or more deputy commissioner as the Secretary may deem necessary.
(b) Judicial proceedings provided under sections 18 and 21 of the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act in
respect to a compensation order made pursuant to this Act shall be instituted in the United States district court of the judicial
district wherein is located the office of the deputy commissioner whose compensation order is involved if his office is located in
a judicial district and if not so located, such judicial proceedings shall be instituted in the judicial district nearest the base at which
the injury or death occurs.
Section 4. Persons Excluded From Benefits
This Act shall not apply in respect to the injury or death of (1) an employee subject to the provisions of the Federal Employees'
Compensation Act; (2) an employee engaged in agriculture, domestic service, or any employment that is casual and not in the
usual course of the trade, business, or profession of the employer; and (3) a master or member of a crew of any vessel.
Section 5. This Act May Be Cited As The "Defense Base Act"



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This law is designed to provide compensation in the event of the disability or
death of  persons employed at military, air, and naval bases outside the
United States. This is important law for maritime workers stationed
overseas near combat areas. It is not only for shipyard workers,
longshoremen, harbor workers and other marine services type of
personnel...it applies to persons employeed at military bases, whether the
nature of services is maritime in nature or not.
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