Failure to Provide Safety Equipment for Construction Workers
Employers in the construction industry are required to provide proper safety equipment to their workers. It is well-established that construction work is by the far the most dangerous type of work that a person can do, with catastrophic injuries and deaths all to common. When there is a failure to provide safety equipment to construction workers, these employers are liable for their conduct giving rise to claims for compensation beyond Workers Compensation benefits.
At Wittenstein & Wittenstein, we’ve been helping injured construction workers for over 60 years. We can identify a failure to provide equipment case, and collect the highest amount of compensation possible for the injuries that were sustained. We also provide a personal touch, helping workers and their families through their time of crisis and towards restored health and lifestyle.
FAILURE TO PROVIDE SAFETY EQUIPMENT CAN CAUSE CATASTROPHIC INJURIES
New York Law requires the use of safety equipment at construction sites to reduce the risk of injury for workers and bystanders. Owners, contractors and/or their agents must be sure to provide appropriate:
- Stable and efficient ladders, scaffolding and ramps
- Wall support and shoring for workers in trenches or excavaions
- Proper overhead protection and headwear for protection from falling objects
- Properly fitted eyewear
- Properly installed safety lines, lifelines, tie-offs and harnesses to prevent falls from heights
- Railing, covers and barricades to prevent workers from falling through openings.
COLLECT MORE THAN JUST WORKERS COMPENSATION
Under New York’s Labor Laws, workers that are injured due to their employer’s failure to provide safety equipment can sue their employer, and are not limited by the exclusive remedy provision of New York Workers Compensation. Sections 240 and 241 of New York’s Labor Law, makes owners, contractors and their agents liable for the injuries sustained by workers due to their failure to provide safety equipment. This is huge! In addition to collecting all applicable compensation from workers compensation, workers can also start a full-blown lawsuit for their pain and suffering, future lost earnings, loss of consortium, lost union benefits and other claims, which can fully compensate for even the most catastrophic injuries, where only a workers compensation claim would certainly fall short.
Section 240 of New York Labor Law is known as the Scaffold Law because it imposes strict liability on owners, contractors and their agents that fail to provide appropriate safety devices that are in good working order. It specifically applies to those safety devices that are used for workers at “high elevations.” High elevations does not mean that the work must be done on a skyscraper, falling 10 feet is sufficient to cause a catastrophic injury and the law takes this into consideration. Labor Law 240 considers the provision to safety equipment to be so crucial, that it imposes strict liability on employers that fail to do so.
Some examples of construction accidents where The Scaffold Law applies are when a worker falls due to aging and unsafe scaffolding, a ladder with rusting hardware collapses, netting is not used in proper places, an insufficient amount of safety lines, harnesses with that been poorly maintaining and are rotting, insufficient quantity of barricades for the sites, fencing that is not high enough, guardrails that have gaps. The list is long, but the concept is straightforward. It must be the correct safety equipment and it must be functioning properly.
One more thing! The Scaffold Law also holds the employer responsible for actually making sure the safety devices are used, and used properly. It’s not enough to merely provide the safety device, the employer is responsible for the worker failing to use it or using it improperly. This puts the onus on the employer to provide proper training and supervision to ensure the usage of safety equipment, and it’s proper use. In 2008, a worker was killed during the construction of Trump Soho, due to a scaffolding collapse, most likely suing Trump for damages.
Section 241 specifies the general safety standards for areas where construction work is being done. It applies to all construction, excavation and demolition work that is being done in New York. It requires that while the work is being done, it must properly guarded, arranged properly and that there be enough protection for workers. Claims under Section 241 are often made in conjunction with Section 240 in order to obtain the highest amount of compensation possible for victims.
Construction accident cases are complicated, and require the most experienced level of legal help. This is not the time to hire your Cousin Vinny! A failure to provide safety equipment claim is multi-faceted, potentially including Workers Compensation, Product Liability and Labor Law claims, and this can be just one component of a construction accident case. At Wittenstein & Wittenstein, we’ve been handling construction accident cases for generations. Please call us for a free consultation at 718-261-8114