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What many construction workers don’t realize is that New York laws offer them tremendous protections from work site injuries as well as excellent legal remedies should they be hurt on the job. One such area is the need for proper scaffolding. All contractors and owners involved in the alteration, demolition, cleaning, painting and other work on a building or structure must provide necessary scaffolding, hoists, ladders, stays, pulleys, braces, ropes and other items to ensure worker safety. Unless the building is a one or two family dwelling and the owners do not direct or control the work, the owners are just as responsible as the contractor for ensuring that proper scaffolding, hoists, etc are in place. (See NY Labor Law § 240 for the exact requirements and wording).

For example, if the owner of a one or two family home contracted with a roofing company to install a new roof and that owner had nothing to do with the actual job, he or she would have no responsibility to ensure to above mentioned safety devices were in place. However, if that same owner directed or controlled the work or the dwelling held three or more families, that owner is just as responsible as the contractor with regard to the above discussed safety devices (scaffolding, hoists, ropes, pulleys, braces, etc) (NY Labor Law § 240). Furthermore, unless they are involved in the direction and control of the work site, architects, engineers and landscapers are not responsible for the above mentioned safety devices such as scaffolding and cannot be held liable for the lack of such safety devices. (NY Labor Law § 240).

In particular, scaffolding must be provided. NY Labor Law § 240. In a future blog I will explain how contractors and owners are what are referred to as strictly liable for injuries caused by inadequate, non-existent or faulty scaffolding. As I will explain, you get hurt, the contractor and most often the owner are liable –period!

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