With thousands of construction projects going on at any one time in New York City, accidents are bound to happen. 

Falls from ladders or scaffolding are not uncommon and can be deadly. The purpose behind what is often referred to as the New York scaffold law is to increase safety for construction workers. 

Looking at the problem

According to The Center for Construction Research and Training, falls represent the primary cause of construction fatalities, and falls from ladders, roofs and scaffolding are the most common. In 2019, New York Department of Building personnel estimated that there were about 45,000 active construction sites, and city data showed that workplace injuries had increased by 221% and fatalities by 33% over the previous five years. 

Understanding the law

Labor Law Section 240, known as the New York scaffold law, seeks to provide better protection for workers. Scaffolding positioned more than 20 feet from the ground or floor must have a secure safety rail of at least 34 inches in height. The scaffold must bear four times the maximum weight placed upon it and, if outside, must attach in such a way that it does not sway from the building. 

Assigning blame

Liability under the scaffold law extends to anyone involved with the management of the construction project during which a fall occurred, and a worker suffered injury or death. The injured worker or the family of the deceased has the right to expect that all negligent parties will be held liable under Section 240 or any other applicable law.