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What laws govern injured construction workers?

Building occupants and guests are not the only negligence victims entitled to institute a premises liability lawsuit in New York. Under the state’s Labor Law, contractors and building owners must assure that safety devices are installed or used to protect workers against the harm that can be inflicted through the force of gravity. These protections also apply to temporary structures and accidents where a safety device collapsed or malfunctioned for no apparent reason.

This law covers construction activities occurring on a scaffold, staircase, ramp or passageway. Work in these areas must be constructed, shored, equipped, guarded, arranged, operated and conducted in a manner that provides reasonable and adequate protection and safety to these workers.

The state Appellate Division, First Department ruled in September on a lawsuit filed by an operating engineer who was injured at the World Trade Center Construction site. The worker, an operating engineer who maintained welding machines, slipped and fell down a temporary steel staircase while he was walking down to the supply shanty.

The Court found that he was engaged in a construction activity that was covered under the Labor Law and falling down a temporary staircase is the type of elevation risk that is governed under this law. The staircase is also a safety device under this statute because it was erected to provide worker access to different levels of the construction site.

Even though experts disagreed on the temporary stairs’ safety, the court ruled that the stairs were inadequate to shield the plaintiff from the harm coming from the force of gravity. His injuries were at least partially attributable to the building owners’ and contractors’ failure to protect the worker because the structure malfunctioned or did not protect him from falling because it exhibited longstanding use, wear and tear which decreased its anti-slip properties.

Construction workers, guests and occupants who suffer serious injuries in stairway accidents and other mishaps attributed to negligence by the building’s owner, landlord or contractor should seek prompt legal assistance to help determine liability under premises liablity laws. Legal representation can help assure that fair compensation is provided for losses suffered in these accidents.

Source: Justia US LAW, “O’Brien v. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, et al., 2015 NY Slip Op 06749 (Sept. 8, 2015),” Assessed Sept. 27, 2015