Construction is a dangerous industry. Recognizing that, and acknowledging that New York's landscape necessitates building ever upward, the state stands apart from many others in the legal protection it seeks to provide workers. It does this through Labor Law § 240.
Its requirements are straightforward. Property owners and general contracting firms must ensure safe environments for workers, even if they don't employ the personnel or supervise the work. This is to be provided by, among other things, the erection of, "scaffolding, hoists, stays, ladders. Slings, hangers, blocks, pulleys, braces, irons, ropes, and other (protective) devices."
Unfortunately, as regulators with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration consistently note year to year, certain workplace safety rules are consistently overlooked. And those related to preventing falls from heights make up a good number of the infractions, according to preliminary data for 2018. Specifically:
- General requirements for ensuring fall protection remain at the top of the list with 7,270 citations so far this year.
- Issues with scaffolding account for 3,336 infractions.
- Improper ladder use and poor equipment maintenance have yielded 2,812 citations.
- There have been 1,982 recorded instances of employers not providing fall prevention training or even having any competent trainers available.
Even if workers have the necessary training on how to operate safely at significant heights, if the equipment they are using fails to meet the standards required by federal and New York law, severe and perhaps fatal injuries can result.
Seeking fair compensation to cover costs of medical care, lost wages, suffering and pain and other expenses is a right ensured by Labor Law § 240, but holding liable parties accountable for negligence can be daunting. A skilled attorney can help.