Understanding the Basics of the Labor LawThe “New York Labor Law” provides statutory protection to construction workers and other person frequenting construction sites.
Labor Law § 200
The general provision that protects construction workers from injury at a job site is Labor Law § 200. This section is essentially a codification of the common law duty. This section affords a general duty to protect the health and safety of construction workers performing their duties at a construction site. The law provides as follows:
All places to which this chapter applies shall be so constructed, equipped, arranged, operated and conducted as to provide reasonable and adequate protection to the lives, health and safety of all persons employed therein or lawfully frequenting such places. All machinery, equipment, and devices in such places shall be so placed, operated, guarded, and lighted as to provide reasonable and adequate protection to all such persons. The board may make rules to carry into effect the provisions of this section.
Labor Law § 240
§ 240 of the Labor Law is commonly referred to as the “Scaffold Law.” This provision affords protection to construction site workers from the risks associated with working at an elevation, such as when working on a scaffold; as well as from the risks associated with gravity, such as from falling objects. The statute recognizes the seriousness of the injury that may be sustained by a construction worker when working at a height. The law provides as follows:
1. All contractors and owners and their agents, except owners of one and two-family dwellings who contract for but do not direct or control the work, in the erection, demolition, repairing, altering, painting, cleaning or pointing of a building or structure shall furnish or erect, or cause to be furnished or erected for the performance of such labor, scaffolding, hoists, stays, ladders, slings, hangers, blocks, pulleys, braces, irons, ropes, and other devices which shall be so constructed, placed and operated as to give proper protection to a person so employed.
No liability pursuant to this subdivision for the failure to provide protection to a person so employed shall be imposed on professional engineers as provided for in article one hundred forty-five of the education law, architects as provided for in article one hundred forty-seven of such law or landscape architects as provided for in article one hundred forty-eight of such law who do not direct or control the work for activities other than planning and design. This exception shall not diminish or extinguish any liability of professional engineers or architects or landscape architects arising under the common law or any other provision of law.
2. Scaffolding or staging more than twenty feet from the ground or floor, swung or suspended from an overhead support or erected with stationary supports, except scaffolding wholly within the interior of a building and covering the entire floor space of any room therein, shall have a safety rail of suitable material properly attached, bolted, braced or otherwise secured, rising at least thirty-four inches above the floor or main portions of such scaffolding or staging and extending along the entire length of the outside and the ends thereof, with only such openings as may be necessary for the delivery of materials. Such scaffolding or staging shall be so fastened as to prevent it from swaying from the building or structure.
3. All scaffolding shall be so constructed as to bear four times the maximum weight required to be dependent therefrom or placed thereon when in use.
Labor Law § 241
§ 241 of the Labor Law imposes an vicarious liability on contractors and owners and their agents, except owners of one and two-family dwellings who contract for but do not direct or control the work, for injury to construction workers that occur as a result of a construction, excavation and demolition work. The law provides as follows:
All contractors and owners and their agents, except owners of one and two-family dwellings who contract for but do not direct or control the work, when constructing or demolishing buildings or doing any excavating in connection therewith, shall comply with the following requirements:
6. All areas in which construction, excavation or demolition work is being performed shall be so constructed, shored, equipped, guarded, arranged, operated and conducted as to provide reasonable and adequate protection and safety to the persons employed therein or lawfully frequenting such places. The commissioner may make rules to carry into effect the provisions of this subdivision, and the owners and contractors and their agents for such work, except owners of one and two-family dwellings who contract for but do not direct or control the work, shall comply therewith.
New York Labor Law can be complex. When you or a loved one are injured in a construction related accident, it is important to speak to a New York construction accident lawyer to investigate your claim and protect your rights.