Working at a construction site requires constant vigilance. Uneven working surfaces, heavy equipment and falling objects contribute to the worksite’s safety hazards.
Falls are one of the most common workplace accidents and can lead to severe injury or even death.
New York’s scaffold law
New York’s Scaffold Law was enacted in 1885 to protect construction workers who are in the process of erecting, demolishing, or remodeling a building. It is specific for workers on scaffolds, ladders or other high areas and places liability on contractors, building owners and their agents in the event of a worker’s injury.
The law requires that scaffolding 20 feet or more above the ground needs a safety rail at least 34″ high. It also requires other equipment, such as hoists, stays, braces, pulleys and other safety features designed to keep construction workers safe.
Because of the concept of “strict liability,” responsible parties have more of an incentive to ensure a safe working environment on construction sites.
New York is the only state that places complete liability on other agents in the event of a fall. Those looking to change the law state that it hampers progress by penalizing third parties, even if the worker was at fault.
However, The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) disagrees and states the law’s only purpose is that construction sites be kept safe and maintained for the protection of the workers. It also ensures that construction workers who are seriously injured receive compensation for lost wages and medical expenses.
It’s imperative that construction workers know about the laws that protect them on the worksite. Furthermore, a severe injury may take weeks or months to heal. Alleviating the stress and anxiety of financial insecurity may help speed the recovery process.