Construction sites can be dangerous places with hazards including heavy machinery, dangerous tools, scaffolding, ladders, lifts, electrical wires. debris, falling objects, and more. When a worker is injured or killed on or near a construction site, the owner or general contractor or a subcontractor may be liable.
If you work in construction, demolition or industrial window washing you know how dangerous it can be on a daily basis. On the job injuries occur more often than you may think. Some common construction and demolition accident scenarios include:
New York Law has accepted the policy consideration that workers need to be protected while performing the dangerous activity of construction, demolition and industrial window washing. The protections come under the New York Labor Laws. One law provides absolute liability against the owner, general contractor or other party that has the right to direct and control a worker's activities. New York State Labor Law section 240(1), commonly known as the "Scaffold Law" mandates that an owner, general contractor or other party who directs and controls a worker's activities is absolutely liable for the worker's injuries if they are injured as a result of the application of gravity, regardless of the worker's own negligence. This law applies to workers who fall from a ladder or scaffold because it slid out, broke or was not adequate for the job. The rule also applies to other devices or objects that are being used as the functional equivalent of a ladder or scaffold. For example, someone is standing on a bucket or desk to reach a height. If they fall, they have an action under 240(1). An owner, general contractor or other party with the right of direction and control is not liable if it can show that the Plaintiff was the sole proximate cause of their injury. This would include establishing that the worker misused the equipment or did not follow instructions.
A worker has a cause of action under another section of New York State Labor Law, section 241(6), if they can establish that there is a violation of the New York State Industrial Code. This is a State code which enumerates safety standards. There are standards for using ladders, scaffolds, saws, using personal protection such as hard hats, gloves and breathing devices when working with poisonous or toxic fumes, doing demolition, falling through holes, and protecting the public. A violation of one the industrial code sections acts as a predicate for bringing a cause of action under the section.
POPICK & RUTMAN has been working with engineers, safety consultants and architects for over 30 years in establishing the violation of sections to establish safety code violations.
The main difference between 240(1) and 241(6) cases is that there is not absolute liability against a defendant in a 241(6) case. In the 241(6) case, the Plaintiff's damages are offset by his comparative negligence.
The window washers you see on the platforms on the sides of tall buildings and sky scrapers also have liability against a building owner under Section 202 of the Labor Law if they can establish a violation of the industrial code. The code requires that the building owner must ensure that the building is fitted with structural features, anchors or other fixed devices for the window washer's protection.
A major concern of many injured workers is immigration status. Many New York immigrants, documented or undocumented, are working off-the-books on non-union construction jobs. These jobs generally do not have the protections that union jobs have because of the absence of union-required shop stewards and site safety managers. However, the fact that a worker is undocumented and/or is working off-the-books does not affect their protection under the labor law.
If you have been hurt while on the job or are a victim of a construction or demolition accident, then call the personal injury attorneys at POPICK & RUTMAN today at (718) 321-7460. We can help your claim get settled.