Current NY Scaffold Law Holds Construction Companies Absolutely Liable for Elevation Injuries
New York's scaffold laws are an important safeguard against construction accidents.
June 13, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ -- A construction worker fell 80 feet from the top of a nearly 120-foot scaffold at a worksite in Brooklyn, New York. Though he lived, the scaffolding accident did not go unnoticed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Upon inspection of the construction site, OSHA cited the masonry company for several serious violations with proposed fines of $36,000, and a repeat violation with a proposed fine of $38,500. These violations included:
- Employees climbed the scaffold frames to access work areas
- The scaffold platform was not fully planked
- The scaffold lacked guardrails
- An access platform was not secured
- Another worker was not tied off to a safe anchor point
"This employee is fortunate to have escaped death," said Kay Gee, OSHA area director for Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens, "but what is unfortunate is that this fall occurred in the first place. It is effective scaffold maintenance, work practices and fall protection--not luck--that are essential to protecting workers against life-threatening falls."
New York has had a scaffolding law in place since 1885 when tall buildings were being constructed. If a worker fell and was incapable of continuing his job, he was simply replaced with another worker. To hold employers, property owners and municipalities completely liable for these worksite injuries, the Scaffold Law was implemented.
As the years passed, OSHA and Workers' Compensation (Workers' Comp) regulations reduced the risk of construction accidents for employees by requiring employers to maintain equipment, to eliminate safety hazards and to implement prevention programs. With these safety regulations in place, some business owners and landowners are pressuring lawmakers to repeal the scaffolding laws that automatically hold them absolutely liable for workers' injuries resulting from elevations of more than 18 inches.
Though OSHA and Workers' Comp are beneficial to workers and have their place, they do not replace the protections provided to injured workers by the Scaffold Law. It is still important for contractors and property owners to maintain accountability for workplace accidents since they are ultimately responsible, by law, for keeping workers on New York construction sites safe. If you have been injured while working at a construction site, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to protect your rights.
Article provided by Hacker Murphy LLP
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