One of the reasons that construction work in New York City is so dangerous is the trend toward vertical development. As buildings grow taller, the risks created for those that construct, repair and modify those edifices increase. Falls from a significant elevation can lead to death or injuries so severe that they force someone to forever change their career path. Other incidents caused by significant elevation can also leave workers injured and unsure of their rights.
Thankfully, there are potentially multiple forms of support and protection available for construction workers in New York. One of the most important is New York’s Scaffold Law, also known as New York Labor Law 240.
Owners and contractors have strict liability
Long before workers’ compensation was available in every state, New York enacted the Scaffold Law as a way to protect those contributing to the developing skyline. By creating financial and legal liability for those who hired construction workers to do jobs at a significant elevation, the state helped motivate property owners and business managers to prioritize worker safety.
Those that own a building and those contracted by a building’s owner have liability for any gravity-related injury that occurs during a project. The owner or the company they contract should take reasonable steps to keep the workers safe. Obviously, that statute applies to falls from a significant elevation, which are responsible for 48% of construction worker fatalities. Such falls have always been more of an issue with certain businesses, like those that hire non-union workers. In fact, non-union construction sites accounted for 86% of construction worker deaths across the state in 2018.
The scaffold law opens up the possibility of civil litigation to recover personal losses in addition to any workers’ compensation claim that an injured construction worker might pursue. Workers’ compensation typically does not fully replace lost wages and future earning potential, which is one reason why litigation under the scaffold law is often necessary for those who have to change professions following work-related injuries.
Learning more about the unique New York laws that protect construction employees can help these professionals get the support they deserve after suffering an injury at work.