We Specialize in New York Construction Accident Cases
Proper scaffolding and ladder practices are essential in preventing accidents and injuries on construction sites. Employers and contractors are legally obligated to provide a safe working environment for their employees and adhere to relevant safety regulations for using various types of equipment including scaffolds, extension ladders and A-frame ladders. Understanding your rights and responsibilities is essential if you’re involved in a construction site accident in New York. This guide provides in-depth information on New York Labor Laws 240 and 241, safety measures, and legal implications.
New York Consolidated Laws, Labor Law – LAB § 240.
Scaffolding and other devices for use of employees.
1. All contractors and owners and their agents, except owners of one and two-family dwellings who contract for but do not direct or control the work, in the erection, demolition, repairing, altering, painting, cleaning or pointing of a building or structure shall furnish or erect, or cause to be furnished or erected for the performance of such labor, scaffolding, hoists, stays, ladders, slings, hangers, blocks, pulleys, braces, irons, ropes, and other devices which shall be so constructed, placed and operated as to give proper protection to a person so employed.
No liability pursuant to this subdivision for the failure to provide protection to a person so employed shall be imposed on professional engineers as provided for in article one hundred forty-five of the education law, architects as provided for in article one hundred forty-seven of such law or landscape architects as provided for in article one hundred forty-eight of such law who do not direct or control the work for activities other than planning and design. This exception shall not diminish or extinguish any liability of professional engineers or architects or landscape architects arising under the common law or any other provision of law.
2. Scaffolding or staging more than twenty feet from the ground or floor, swung or suspended from an overhead support or erected with stationary supports, except scaffolding wholly within the interior of a building and covering the entire floor space of any room therein, shall have a safety rail of suitable material properly attached, bolted, braced or otherwise secured, rising at least thirty-four inches above the floor or main portions of such scaffolding or staging and extending along the entire length of the outside and the ends thereof, with only such openings as may be necessary for the delivery of materials. Such scaffolding or staging shall be so fastened as to prevent it from swaying from the building or structure.
3. All scaffolding shall be so constructed as to bear four times the maximum weight required to be dependent therefrom or placed thereon when in use.
How to Prevent Scaffolding and Ladder Accidents
To enhance safety when working with scaffolds and ladders,
consider the following guidelines:
- Proper Assembly and Inspection: Follow manufacturer
instructions for assembling scaffolds and conduct regular
inspections to ensure stability and structural integrity.
- Secure Footing and Level Ground: Place scaffolds and ladders
on stable, level surfaces to prevent tipping, sliding or instability.
- Tying Off or Securing by other Mechanical Means: Extension ladders exceeding 10 feet in height should be secured by either tying off the top of the ladder to a fixed object of adequate strength or by securing the lower portion of the ladder by other mechanical means.
- Guardrails and Fall Protection: Install adequate guardrails and
fall protection systems on scaffolds to prevent falls from heights.
Ensure workers use appropriate personal fall arrest equipment
- Safety Training and Supervision: Provide comprehensive
training programs to educate workers on scaffold and ladder
safety practices. Ensure proper on-site supervision to monitor
compliance with safety regulations.
- Regular Maintenance and Repair: Perform routine
maintenance, repairs, and equipment replacements to keep
scaffolds and ladders in optimal condition and minimize the risk of accidents.
Employer Responsibilities and Legal Rights
Employers are legally obligated to provide safe working conditions
and comply with relevant safety regulations, where workers are
required to work at substantial elevations in order to complete
their work. Injured workers have the right to pursue compensation
through personal injury claims, including:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
In Rocovich v. Consol. Edison Co., the New York State Court of Appeals stated, “while §240 (1) does not purport to specify the hazards to be avoided, it does specify protective means for the hazards’ avoidance. The types of devices which the statute prescribes, ‘shall be so constructed, placed, and operated’ as to avoid the contemplated hazards are: scaffolding, hoists, stays, ladders, slings, hangers, blocks, pulleys, braces, irons, ropes, and other devices. It is evident, from some of the devices which were enumerated, that these devices are for the protection of persons gaining access to or working at sites where elevation poses a risk.” The Rocovich Court continued, “the various tasks in which these devices are customarily needed or employed share a common characteristic. All entail a significant risk inherent in the particular task, because of the relative elevation at which the task must be performed. It is because of the special hazards in having to work in these circumstances, that we believe, the legislature has seen fit to give the worker the exceptional protection that §240 (1) provides. Consistent with this statutory purpose, we have applied §240 (1) in circumstances where there are risks related to elevation differentials (See, Bland v. Manocherian, Zimmer v. Chemung County Performing Arts, Israilev v. Ficarra Furniture, Koenig v. Patrick Construction Corp., Haimes v. New York Telephone Co.). In cases such as these, the proper ‘erection’, ‘construction’, ‘placement’, and ‘operation’ of one or more devices of the sort listed in §240(1), would allegedly have prevented the injury.”
In Runner v. New York Stock Exchange, Inc., 13 NY3d 599 (Ct. of App. 2009), The New York Court of Appeals stated that the type of accident triggering Labor Law §240(1) coverage is one that will sustain the allegation that an adequate safety device would have “shielded the injured worker from harm directly flowing from the application of the force of gravity to an object or person.”
New York Labor Law § 241(6)
New York Labor Law § 241(6), in conjunction with the New York State Industrial Code, provides detailed information on how construction, demolition, and excavation worksites must be arranged and maintained to keep workers safe. Labor Law § 241 and the New York Industrial Code set forth safety actions and equipment that must be provided to all workers. The purpose of Section 241(6) is to establish that property owners and contractors are responsible for the safety of construction workers. If a construction worker is injured in an accident that occurred due to the contractor or owner’s negligence, or in any accident caused by a violation of a listed safety rule, the worker may be entitled to significant money damages from the property owner or contractor. The worker need not establish the owner or contractor was negligent; it’s enough to demonstrate that there was a safety rule violation and that the violation caused the worker’s injuries.
New York Consolidated Laws, Labor Law: LAB § 241
Construction, excavation and demolition work.
All contractors and owners and their agents, except owners of one and two-family dwellings who contract for but do not direct or control the work, when constructing or demolishing buildings or doing any excavating in connection therewith, shall comply with the following requirements:
6. All areas in which construction, excavation or demolition work is being performed shall be so constructed, shored, equipped, guarded, arranged, operated and conducted as to provide reasonable and adequate protection and safety to the persons employed therein or lawfully frequenting such places. The commissioner may make rules to carry into effect the provisions of this subdivision, and the owners and contractors and their agents for such work, except owners of one and two-family dwellings who contract for but do not direct or control the
work, shall comply therewith.
Who is Covered by Labor Law Section 241(6)?
Labor Law Section 241(6) applies to workers performing construction, excavation, or demolition work. “Construction work” is defined at 12 NYCRR 23-1.4(b), which states that construction work includes “[a]ll work of the types performed in the construction, erection, alteration, repair, maintenance, painting or moving of buildings or other structures.” The law lists a few, non-exhaustive examples for the purposes of illustration, including “excavating, trenching, pipe and conduit laying, road and bridge construction, concreting, cleaning of the exterior surfaces including windows of any building.” “Demolition work” means “work incidental to or associated with the total or partial dismantling or razing of a building or other structure,” while “excavation work” includes “[t]he removal of earth, rock or other material in connection with construction or demolition operations.” Employees who are not engaged in construction, demolition, or excavation work as defined by the statute are not afforded the protections of Section 241(6).
Section 241(6) dictates that areas in which construction, excavation, or demolition work is being performed must be afforded proper safety precautions. The specific safety procedures required are laid out in Part 23 of Title 12 of the New York Codes, Rules and Regulations (NYCRR). There are sections dedicated to each type of work, covering safety devices, practices, equipment, and other measures. The rules can get incredibly specific, such as specifying a minimum or maximum height for guardrails and other safety apparatus.
Labor Law §241(6) imposes a non-delegable duty on owners and contractors to provide reasonable and adequate protection and safety for workers and to comply with the specific safety rules and regulations promulgated by the Commissioner of the Department of Labor. Grant v. City of New York, 109 AD3d 961, 972 NYS2d 86 (2nd Dept. 2013).