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The Scaffold Law in New York

By Dansker & Aspromonte

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July 20, 2024

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On 8th Ave and 54th St, two men were left hanging 500 feet in the air for an hour and a half. The two men were technicians, working for Tractel Harness, and were cleaning the windows of the Hearst Tower when the scaffold’s center motor stopped working, causing the scaffold to collapse in the middle, rendering it inoperable. Neither of the men was injured, thankfully.

When Scaffolds Fail

It’s not a common occurrence for scaffolds to stop working in NYC, but it happens enough to where first responders have to be trained to handle such situations. A lot of these accidents that do happen aren’t always as lucky and sometimes result in severe injuries or even death. According to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2011, the leading occupational category that had the most deaths was construction. The most common falls are from scaffolds, roofs, ladders and other elevated areas.

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The Scaffold Law in New York

In the NY Business Journal, a study cited that 90 percent of fatalities that occur at work in NY over the past decade involved employers who were in violation of existing safety standards. In the Scaffold Law, known as New York Labor Law § 240, it mandates employers provide necessary equipment to allow employees to engage in construction, demolition, repairing, painting and cleaning buildings or structures safely. By law, it is required that employers supply employees with the tools they needed to get their jobs done and to provide them with protection. For example, it’s required that scaffolds have the capacity to bear four times the max weight needed to perform a particular job.

Authorization is also granted to workers and family members of the workers who are injured on scaffolds to sue the property owner or contractor responsible for the death or injury of the worker who fell. In the event that the worker is injured or killed, the general contractor and property owner are considered strictly liable, so even if they weren’t present or didn’t contribute to the fall, they are still held responsible.

The NY Senate Bill 111 was introduced in 2013. This would have amended the NY Civil Practice Law and Rules to require a comparison of the negligence of the worker to see if the injury was connected to alcohol use, criminal behavior, not using required safety equipment or not following employer’s instructions or safety guidelines. However, this bill never made it to the voting floor, so the Scaffold Law remains the same for now.

Consult with a Scaffold Injury Lawyer

If you or a loved one was in a scaffolding accident that resulted in injury or death, you should speak with a personal injury lawyer who is knowledgeable and experienced with handling NY Scaffold Law cases. This should be done right away because time is crucial, since conditions rapidly change and the memory of witnesses can become hazy. By acting in a timely manner, the recovery you can receive from a lawsuit can compensate you and your family for losses. Contact us today if you need help.

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