After years of persistent advocacy, a bill aimed at strengthening safety regulations for offshore workers, also known as Jacob’s Law, is set to be fully implemented. The bill that requires location detector beacons on life jackets for offshore workers was signed into law by Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards.
The legislation, named after Jacob Matt from Jennings, comes in the wake of a tragic helicopter crash in 2008 that claimed the lives of five people, including Jacob Matt, whose body was not recovered until days after the incident. In honor of his memory, his family started a campaign for “Jacob’s Law,” which mandates the use of GPS beacons for offshore aircraft travel. Although the bill was enacted in 2011, it was never enforced due to the high cost of the required $2,000 beacons. Today, the beacons are more affordable, priced at around $200.
Under Jacob’s Law, one beacon will be placed under the pilot’s seat, another under the aircraft, and additional beacons on each life jacket.
The law regained attention after the tragic incident involving the capsizing of the lift boat Seacor Power south of Port Fourchon in April 2021, resulting in the loss of seven crew members out of the 19 onboard, who were never found.
With Representative Troy Romero’s (R-Jennings assistance, the Matt family successfully revised the original bill, ultimately leading to it becoming law. The new legislation will take effect on January 1 of the coming year, allowing companies time to acquire the beacons and provide training to offshore workers.
Diana Matt, Jacob’s mother, expressed her gratitude for the unanimous support the bill received from the House and Senate. She stated her hopes for the new law to provide extra security for offshore workers and their families. She also extended appreciation for Representative Romero’s diligent work on seeing the bill through.
The implementation of Jacob’s Law is expected to significantly enhance the safety and security of offshore workers, providing a crucial mechanism for timely rescue and recovery in the event of accidents or incidents at sea.
As January 1 approaches, companies operating in offshore environments are urged to prepare for the new regulations by procuring the required beacons and ensuring appropriate training for their workforce.
Our offshore accident and maritime lawyers at Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys congratulate Jacob Matt’s family on winning their decade-long fight for Jacob’s Law. We hope this new law will succeed in saving many lives and provide peace of mind for the loved ones of offshore workers in the future.