New York Labor Law 240
The construction industry in New York State poses a risk to its employees. The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health reports that NYC has the highest percentage of construction-related worker deaths in the US.
Construction-related mishaps, particularly falling from tall buildings, whether fatal or not, are frequent in New York City. As a result, all workers, even independent contractors, should be aware of and knowledgeable about New York Labor Law 240. This law gives workers legal protection when seeking compensation for injuries sustained from falls on the construction job.
What is New York Labor Law 240?
The New York State Legislature in 1885 passed Labor Law 240. This law, popularly referred to as the “Scaffold Law,” is exclusive to New York. Labor Law 240 regulates scaffold accidents involving elevations under Article 10, which includes construction, maintenance work, and demolition of buildings. This involves falling from scaffolds, ladders, bridges over sidewalks, or other elevated platforms. It also covers injuries brought on by items falling upon workers. According to the law, owners of building sites and their agents (contractors) must safeguard workers against height-related accidents by providing the necessary safety gear. These owners and their contractors must protect all construction workers with the proper safety equipment and procedures. These include barricades, safety railings, fences, lanyards, safety harnesses, and netting.
Simply put, the New York Labor Law 240 holds owners and contractors accountable for accidents suffered by workers as a means of risks related to elevation if they have failed to provide proper safety equipment.
How does the Scaffold Law protect workers?
Construction employees who sustain workplace injuries can now be compensated beyond just workers’ compensation payments owing to the Scaffold Law. If a construction worker gets injured at the construction site and the construction company or property owner is found to be at fault, the scaffold law may entitle the construction worker to further compensation for medical costs, lost wages, lost employee benefits, pain and suffering, and other losses. If a construction worker dies, benefits may be available to the remaining family. However, the standard time limit for filing a lawsuit in both situations is 3 years from the accident date.
What if the worker is to blame for a scaffold accident?
According to New York Labor Law 240, construction companies and contractors are responsible for any injury or accidents caused by falls from scaffolds, ladders, or other high places. The company in charge of the construction site is solely responsible; there is no comparative culpability that takes into account how a worker could have contributed to an accident. However, it is crucial to remember that New York Labor Law 240 does not immediately consider the company responsible for legal purposes. In some cases, carelessness on the part of another party may transfer blame to that party. But generally, any scaffold accidents involving workers using scaffolds or other elevated platforms hold the building owner or company accountable.
Does the NY Labor Law 240 only protect those who fall?
New York State Labor Law 240 only protects those construction workers who suffered injury by a fall or by a falling item at the workplace. The law clearly states that it only applies to construction. It does not cover actions linked to manufacturing, maintenance, or decorating buildings. The provisions of Section 240 do not apply to pedestrians, drivers, or other bystanders at a worksite.
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