What Construction Workers Should Know About the Scaffold Law in New York

Last updated on: June 28, 2024

The construction industry is the most dangerous industry in the United States today with falls being the leading cause of death in on-the-job accidents. The State of New York has taken the safety of construction workers very seriously by instating labor laws such as New York Statute 240(1), otherwise known as New York’s “scaffold law.” Crucially, this law allows injured workers to seek compensation if these regulations are not strictly followed, making it a vital piece of legislation for promoting safety and accountability on construction sites.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a construction-related accident while on the job, it’s important to seek knowledgeable legal guidance to protect your rights and interests. At K L Sanchez Law Office, P.C., NY personal injury attorney Keetick Sanchez and our team can assist individuals who have been injured on construction sites in New York. Our understanding of local laws and dedication to our clients positions us well to help you review your situation and explore potential compensation avenues. We are committed to providing guidance through this challenging time, helping you understand your legal options and supporting you throughout the legal process. Let us assist you in taking the necessary steps towards securing the compensation you deserve.

Don’t let confusion or uncertainty about your legal rights hinder your recovery. Contact us at (646) 701-7990 today for a consultation and begin your journey to recovery and justice.

New York’s Scaffold Law for Construction Workers Details
Responsibility Owners and contractors are responsible for ensuring the safety of workers exposed to gravity-related dangers and falling risks.
Liability Owners and contractors bear absolute liability for injuries suffered by workers, regardless of direct supervision or control over the work.
Covered Job Categories Erection, demolition, repairing, altering, painting, cleaning, pointing.
Required Safety Devices Scaffolding, hoists, stays, ladders, slings, hangers, blocks, pulleys, braces, irons, ropes, and other necessary devices.
Compliance Safety devices must be properly constructed, placed, and operated to safeguard workers. Failure to provide or correctly use safety measures may result in legal repercussions.
Workers’ Compensation Workers are entitled to collect workers’ compensation benefits for on-the-job injuries, but these benefits may not fully compensate for the damages caused by a fall.
Burden of Proof Injured workers must prove that the scaffold law was violated and that the violation contributed to their injury to hold owners and contractors accountable for damages.

What is the Labor Law 240.1 in NY?

Labor Law 240.1, commonly known as the “Scaffolding Law,” is a crucial regulation in New York aimed at enhancing workplace safety for workers involved in construction and related activities. This law mandates that all property owners and contractors engaged in the construction, demolition, repair, alteration, painting, cleaning, or pointing of buildings or structures must provide appropriate and safe scaffolding and other necessary safety devices.

These safety devices include, but are not limited to, scaffolds, hoists, stays, ladders, slings, blocks, pulleys, braces, and ropes. The primary purpose of these devices is to protect workers from potential hazards that could lead to injuries while performing their duties. Importantly, the law specifies that these devices must be well-constructed, properly placed, effectively operated, and maintained regularly to ensure they provide the required protection.

The significance of Law 240.1 lies in its provision of enhanced safety measures, thereby reducing the risk of accidents and injuries in high-risk construction environments. By enforcing strict standards for safety equipment, New York aims to safeguard the well-being of construction workers, ensuring that they have a secure work environment. This law not only promotes the safety of workers but also underscores the responsibility of employers and site owners to maintain a safe construction site. 

A seasoned personal injury lawyer can clarify the nuances of Labor Law 240.1 and its implications for cases involving construction-related injuries. Contact K L Sanchez Law Office, P.C. today for a consultation.

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The scaffold law makes owners and contractors responsible for ensuring the safety of any workers who must perform jobs where there are gravity-related dangers and the risk of falling. If the owner, contractor, or agent is not in compliance and a worker suffers an injury, that worker has the right to sue those parties for damages.

The New York scaffold law is unique in that it places absolute liability on owners and contractors whether they had any direct supervision or control over the work at the time of the injury or not. Consequently, they cannot place blame on another party such as a subcontractor or even the worker. No other state has this kind of stringent law in place protecting safety of the worker.

The scaffold law applies to seven job categories. People covered by the scaffold law include construction workers engaging in the following activities:

  • Erection
  • Demolition
  • Repairing
  • Altering
  • Painting
  • Cleaning
  • Pointing

While engaged in these jobs, an owner or contractor is required to ensure the safety of these workers by providing certain safety devices such as scaffolding, hoists, stays, ladders, slings, hangers, blocks, pulleys, braces, irons, ropes, or other devices. Furthermore, these devices must be constructed, placed, and operated properly to protect the worker. If the owner or contractor did not provide these safety measures or if they were improperly placed or operated and a construction worker was injured while engaged in one of these tasks, the scaffolding law will apply.

But the statute is not limited to these specific construction workers alone. It can actually cover a broader range of workers as long as they can demonstrate that they were an integral and necessary part of the activity. If a worker can prove that he or she was working “in furtherance of” a project where the statute applied, the worker may still be covered under the scaffold law.

Workers’ Compensation

An on-the-job injury will entitle workers to collect workers’ compensation benefits. Unfortunately, worker’s compensation is often not sufficient to compensate for the injuries or even fatality of a fall. And workers’ compensation takes away the victim’s right to hold the at-fault party liable, leaving the possibility that others may suffer from their negligence in the future.

The Burden of Proof

Suffering an accident is not enough to hold contractors and owners responsible under the scaffold law. It is up to the injured party to prove that the law was violated and that the violation contributed to the injury. This is when you need the advice and guidance of a legal professional to ensure that your rights are protected.

How is the Scaffolding Law used in a Construction Accident Case?

In civil litigation, the New York Scaffold Laws can be very important because they create strict liability for owners and contractors who fail to follow them.

In most accidents, the injured party (usually the worker in construction) has to prove that the defendant, often the general contractor or owner, failed to act responsibly in order to get compensation. These cases often saw the defendants “pointing the finger” at injured workers and accusing them of failing to act in a safe way. The defendants in these cases would seek to avoid liability by proving that the main cause of the accident was not something they did but rather that the worker was negligent or wrongful.

The statutes of the Scaffolding Law eliminate virtually any defenses owners or contractors might otherwise have. The liability of the owner and contractor is instead based upon answering some basic questions such as:

  • Is the project covered under the statutes of the Scaffolding Law? 
  • Is it possible that the contractor or owner failed to supply the scaffolding and other safety measures as required by statutes?
  • Was the injury caused by something that could have been avoided?

These questions will most likely be answered “yes” by the general contractor (owner) who is liable for any accident or injuries. These statutes make it much easier for workers injured and their families, to seek compensation for any injuries, damages, or (potentially wrongful death) that may have occurred.

If you have been injured in a fall on a job site or if you have lost a loved one in a job site accident, you owe it to yourself to get the advice of an experienced construction accident lawyer to understand your rights. At K L Sanchez Law Office, we offer a free consultation to discuss your case so you can understand your rights and options under the law.