In everyday life, there aren’t many places more dangerous than a construction site. Heavy machinery, falling objects and the risk of taking a fall from great heights present hazards for all who work in them. For construction workers who deal with these concerns, it’s important to understand their rights when they’re injured at a site, and to know a particular law that can make it easier to collect compensation for their injuries.
The Scaffold Law
New York Labor Law Section 240 sets minimum standards for the use of scaffolding at construction sites. It applies to all forms of work, from construction and demolition to painting and cleaning. When scaffolding is used at these sites, the law mandates certain requirements for the protection of those doing the work. The requirements include things like appropriate safety railings and minimum loads the scaffolds can bear.
The Scaffold Law’s unique characteristic is the liability it creates. In most personal injury lawsuits, the injured party must prove that someone acted negligently in order to recover compensation. This is not the case for injuries sustained under the Scaffold Law. Instead, the law uses what’s known as strict liability. This means that, if the requirements of the law are violated and a worker is injured as a result, the offending party is automatically liable. The worker does not have to prove negligence.
The law applies to all contractors or owners, with the exception of one or two-family dwellings. Importantly, the liability cannot be delegated. This means that contractors and owners who fail to live up to the law’s mandates cannot pass the blame on to anyone else who may be working for them.