As the weather begins to warm up in New York City, construction season begins. The ubiquitous scaffolding is a symbol of a city in constant change, but it is also a potential safety hazard.
The state recognizes the unique dangers that scaffolding poses. A special law could potentially provide robust options for construction workers who receive injuries from gravity-related accidents, such as falls or falling objects.
Labor law 240: the scaffolding law
There are various regulations and standards that govern construction sites and scaffolding in particular. However, one of the most important rules, at least in terms of personal injury lawsuits, comes from Section 240 of New York labor law.
This law has several different parts. The first part essentially provides that employers must provide or set up safe scaffolding. It specifies these employers to be contractors, their agents and owners of property.
The law requires safe scaffolding for many different types of activities, including but not limited to the following:
Scaffolding is also not the only equipment that this law mentions. It also explicitly lists much of the equipment necessary to transport materials, access the scaffold, provide stability and secure workers.
Railings, stability and strength
After the first part which designates responsible parties and outlines the type of equipment to which the law pertains, the next two sections cover specific minimum requirements. For example, platforms more than 20 feet off of the ground must have complete railings of sufficient height. Additionally, scaffolding must be able to bear at least four times its operating weight.
Despite the specificity, accidents still happen. If such an accident was the fault of illegal scaffolding, then this law could be an important element in the recovery of compensation from the responsible building owners or contractors.