Although sometimes dangerous and physically intensive, longshoremen help ensure that a country’s goods are shipped and delivered to their destination safely and on time. Longshoremen, also called dockworkers, generally work on shipping docks and at ports where cargo is loaded and unloaded from tanks, ships and other water vessels.
Longshoremen mark containers, boxes and crates with identifying tags and document the number of containers moved to and from ships using production logs and worksheets. They also check to see whether the shipments have been damaged or opened during transport, and repackage if necessary. Longshoremen record this and other information in computer databases for tracking purposes, and process handling and shipping documents. Other longshoreman duties include repairing and operating machinery such as cranes, hoists and winches to move and lift cargo from ships.
Longshoreman jobs typically require the ability to lift and push heavy objects. Some workers perform their job at heights and in all types of weather conditions. Longshoremen also might be exposed to loud noises, dangerous machinery and equipment, and various fumes and odors. Although longshoremen work eight-hour shifts, overtime and weekend hours are common.
It is important that longshoremen are in good physical condition, as this job requires significant use of arm and leg strength, walking, climbing, bending, lifting and balancing. Employers look for candidates with basic oral communication and arithmetic skills, and the ability give and follow directions. Problem-solving skills are also required, particularly when inspecting equipment, determining malfunctions and operating heavy vehicles and machinery. Other abilities that are beneficial as a longshoremen include good manual dexterity, hearing, reflexes and eye-hand-foot coordination.
The average salary range for a longshoreman job was between $20.27 per hour and $34.63 per hour, according to a June 2010 report on the PayScale website. Average bonuses for the positions ranged from $2,050 to $8,750 per year.
Because longshoremen work on docks near large bodies of water, huge ships and heavy equipment, injuries are commonly caused by falling containers, moving vehicles, near-drowning accidents, slips, falls, fires, electrical equipment and other hazardous conditions. However, longshoremen are protected by the The Longshoremen and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, which offers employee compensation and disability benefits to workers who suffer injuries while loading and unloading cargo from ships.