What is the Construction Workplace Safety Law?

Working in construction is dangerous, especially when you are working at a high elevation. Scaffolding accidents can cause a variety of injuries which can be severe enough to limit your ability to work. New York State Labor Laws protect construction workers on jobsites and give them options if they are injured in accidents like these. Labor Law 240, commonly known as the Construction Workplace Safety Law or the Scaffolding Law, is one of these protections. The Construction Workplace Safety Law has special requirements in place to protect workers who are on scaffolds and other devices at a height, as well as provisions for workers who are injured in those situations.

What is the Construction Workplace Safety Law?

New York State Labor Law 240, or the Construction Workplace Safety Law, was put in place to protect construction workers who perform their duties at elevated worksites. It requires that contractors and owners, as well as their agents, who contract for construction jobs such as erection, demolition, repairing, altering, painting, cleaning, or pointing must provide devices to keep their workers safe. These devices include:

  • Scaffolding,
  • Hoists,
  • Stays,
  • Ladders,
  • Slings,
  • Hangers,
  • Blocks,
  • Pulleys,
  • Braces,
  • Irons, and
  • Ropes.
The law also requires that, for scaffolding or staging that is higher than 20 feet from the ground, a safety rail must be provided.

Who is responsible for my injury?

The Construction Workplace Safety Law states that contractors and owners are strictly liable if a worker is injured during a fall. This is a unique provision in New York State, and it means that the worker does not have to prove that the contractor or owner was negligent in the event of an injury. The law allows injured workers to bring lawsuits against the parties who are responsible for their falls, even if there were no outright OSHA or safety code violations. In a recent interview with the Buffalo Law Journal, personal injury attorney James T. Scime spoke about the Construction Workplace Safety Law. Mr. Scime, who worked in the construction industry himself, said that “the ones who have real control of the safety of a jobsite are the contractors” and that owners and contractors are the people in the best position to ensure safety on a site.

Mr. Scime told the Law Journal that construction sites are much safer now because of the Construction Workplace Safety Law. He said that the law is crucial to seeing that damages are paid to injured workers by the parties who contributed to those injuries. Mr. Scime explained that fines from OSHA are not always effective and that “the only economic incentive to general contractors and owners of construction sites seeing to it that they are hiring contractors and subcontractors who implement safety programs and safety devices is that, if they don’t, there is responsibility.” Owners and contractors can defend themselves against the Construction Workplace Safety Law if the injured worker intentionally did not take advantage of the safety devices available to them, but Mr. Scime told the Law Journal that it is very unlikely that a construction worker would refuse a protocol or device that would make their job safer.

Who to call

If you or a loved one have been injured in a construction accident, call the personal injury attorneys at Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria. The firm’s construction accident team has served the organized labor community for over 50 years and understands the construction industry first-hand. Trust Lipsitz Green to guide you on the path to financial recovery.


This article does not purport to give legal advice and is for informational purposes only.
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