In New York, there exists some of the tallest buildings in the world. During the 1800s, when buildings started to soar into skyscrapers, lawmakers wanted to provide protection to construction workers who were at some incredible altitudes. They wanted to ensure that conditions were as safe as possible for workers in the construction field, and they believed that employers were the ones responsible for maintaining and enforcing that safety. The law was reiterated in 2003.
What is the Law Exactly?
Sections 240 and 241 of the Labor Laws in New York State provide special guidance and protection to workers in the construction trade.
In Section 240, the statute protects the rights of workers when they’ve been injured in a fall or with a falling object. It’s called the Scaffold Law by most. It holds the contractor, project manager, owner of the building or project owner responsible. This statute allows an injured worker to seek compensation for an injury.
Section 241 details the specifics that the owners and contract managers have to follow to keep their workers safe, which includes providing safe platforms for work as well as safety gear and equipment.
The Dangers of Construction
Whether safety equipment is used or not, construction can be an incredibly dangerous industry. In 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that over 10,400 cases of occupational injuries occurred in the construction industry. The highest fatality count occurred in the construction field with 22.
Working at Great Heights
When it comes to working construction, whether it’s building skyscrapers or building and maintaining shorter buildings, serious injury can occur over small mistakes. A trip and fall on a sidewalk can result in moderate to severe injuries. Tripping at a great height means plummeting to a severe injury or death when the proper safety equipment isn’t provided to workers.
The Scaffold Law is important because it holds employers accountable in instances where they don’t follow proper safety procedures. Workers can point out the proper procedures that need to be followed, and when they’re not, the employee has recourse to be compensated for injuries that result.
The workers at a construction site have almost no control over the amount or type of safety equipment that is used, or the safety protocols in place on the job site. They’re at the mercy of a manager, owner or boss who decides what procedures and equipment to utilize.
Since 1923, the court of appeals for New York decided that the state would be a strict liability state, which means that there is no comparable negligence under the law. If a contractor doesn’t provide proper protection to its workers, it doesn’t matter how much the employee contributed to the accident, the employer is held completely liable.
That doesn’t mean that construction company or site owners are not fighting against this strict liability. In fact, owners want to change the statute to limit their liability and place the blame on the worker.
Violation of Safety Standards
In order for the injured construction worker to receive compensation, he or she has to prove that there weren’t proper procedures being followed. To be held liable, the owner of the site had to have violated the law by not enforcing strict procedures. If the worker didn’t follow those procedures, the employer isn’t held responsible. For example, if the employer provides the right equipment to keep the worker from falling, but the worker doesn’t wear it, that’s not the employer’s responsibility. If the equipment fails due to negligence or improper maintenance, the employer would be liable.
An experienced lawyer well-versed in the Scaffold Law can prove that the employer was negligent if proper procedures weren’t followed. Contact a lawyer to get a consultation and talk to the attorney about your circumstances to see how he or she can help.