If you suffer a fall from a height while working on a New York construction site, there is one particular law you need to know. Most people call it the Scaffold Law.
New York’s Scaffold Law permits you to take action against a general contractor, construction manager, or property owner if you fall from a height while at work. If a construction site fall does not kill you, it could leave you with serious injuries that prevent you from working and cost you thousands in lost wages, medical treatment and rehabilitation. You can make a claim under the law if you can prove a general contractor, construction manager, or property owner was negligent.
What might count as negligence under the Scaffold Law?
The general contractor, construction manager, and property owner all have a duty to ensure that you stay safe while working for them in construction. A court would need to decide which of them bears responsibility for what, however. Here are some of the safety measures required:
- They need to provide appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE): When working at heights, this includes things such as harnesses and safety ropes.
- They need to provide adequate training: The training needs to cover the topics necessary to keep you safe. For instance, while they might provide you with a harness, if they do not show you how to fasten it correctly, it may fail when you need it.
- They need to provide appropriate equipment: A ladder with broken rungs is unsafe. Likewise, scaffolding that lacks suitable rails and footboards actually increases the danger to workers.
- They need to ensure the site is safe: Having the right equipment will be in vain if a loose power cable contacts the tower and electrocutes you or if a vehicle reverses into the scaffold and knocks it down.
Some construction companies have been urging the state to do away with the scaffold law. They want to diminish their responsibility if they can prove you contributed to your injuries in some way. Fortunately, the law still stands. However, expect insurers to try and reduce the compensation they owe if you do not know how to stand up to them.