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New York Scaffolding Law Applies To Falls From All Elevated Work Sites

Posted on August 25, 2020 by Nifty Admin

New York Construction Accident Lawyer Assisting Plaintiffs With Scaffolding Injuries

Working at heights can be incredibly dangerous, and falls from heights are a common cause of serious and fatal injuries on New York construction sites. Indeed, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cites falls as the leading cause of deaths on construction sites, noting that falls account for nearly 34 percent of all fatal injuries that occur annually in the construction industry. Many of these falls happen because of improper safety surrounding scaffolding, ladders, and other such devices. New York Labor Law requires construction site owners and employers to take safety precautions so that workers are not injured as a result of dangerous scaffolding or ladder setups. If you were injured in a fall from a scaffold, ladder or other elevated worksites, or if you lost a loved one in a fall-related accident that involved elevated work, it is critical to get in touch with a New York construction accident lawyer as soon as possible. 

You may be eligible to seek compensation through the New York workers’ compensation system in addition to seeking a remedy under New York Labor Law §§ 200, 240, and 241.

New York Labor Law Protections and Safe Scaffolding Work

There are three relevant sections of the New York Labor Law concerning construction accidents and scaffolding. If you or someone you love got hurt in a fall from scaffolding, it is important to understand how these three sections of New York Labor Law could be applicable to you. 

First, New York Labor Law § 200 places a general duty on construction site employers to protect the health and safety of all construction workers. The law specifically states that, on any construction site in New York, “all machinery, equipment, and devices . . . shall be so placed, operated, guarded, and lighted as to provide reasonable and adequate protection to all persons.” While this law is broad in requiring equipment to be reasonable and safe for employees, it does include scaffolding, ladders, and other types of equipment necessary for safe elevation related work.

New York Labor Law § 241(6) also provides protection against unsafe scaffolding and other falls from heights on construction sites. This particular law concerns “construction, excavation, and demolition work.” According to the law, “all areas in which construction, excavation, or demolition work is being performed” must be constructed and equipped “to provide reasonable and adequate protection and safety to the persons employed” at that construction site. As such, unsafe conditions can result in employer liability under this section of the New York Labor Law.

The “Scaffolding Law” Specifically 

Yet the risks associated with scaffolding and other forms of elevated work are so serious that New York Labor Law § 240 specifically addresses equipment used to safely permit elevated related work  on construction sites, and is described as a law pertaining to “scaffolding and other devices for use of employees.” This law was first enacted in 1885 but at that time it only applied to scaffolding, hence it was named “the Scaffolding Law”. Over the years it has been expanded to cover ladders, hoist, man lifts, and other kinds of elevated work sites such as roofs, decks, towers, and the like. Still to this day this section of the law is more commonly or colloquially known as the “Scaffolding Law”. This law provides that contractors and owners in the construction, demolition, repair, or modification of a building must erect or furnish scaffolding, hoists, stays, ladders, slings, or other devices to give protection to those working on the site.

More specifically, the law addresses specific requirements to make scaffolding safe on construction sites. According to this section of New York Labor Law, all of the following must be true of any scaffolding that is more than 20 feet from the ground or floor, or else a construction employer may be liable under this section of the law: 

  • It must have a safety rail properly attached or secured, rising at least 34 inches above the floor and extending along the entire length of the outside; and
  • It must be fastened in order to prevent it from swaying from the building.

Then, regardless of the number of feet from the ground of scaffolding (whether it is 20 feet or less), the following must be true of all scaffolding on a New York construction site:

  • It must be constructed in order to bear four times the maximum weight required.
  • It must be so constructed, placed, and operated as to give proper protection.

Get Help From A New York Scaffolding Law Attorney

You should know that you can seek compensation for a violation of the above sections of New York Labor Law in addition to filing a workers’ compensation claim after a scaffolding accident. One of the experienced New York scaffolding law attorneys at our firm can assist you with the claims process. Contact Powers & Santola, LLP today for more information.