New York Scaffold Accident Attorney
Scaffolds are an essential element of construction work, and scaffolding can nearly always be found on new construction projects, as well as renovations, maintenance and a host of other activities. It may not be surprising to learn that most construction deaths come from falls, typically either falls from ladders or scaffolds. Yet of the literally thousands of accidents and dozens of deaths that occur each year in scaffold accidents, the vast majority are preventable. In New York, contractors and property owners are absolutely liable for failing to protect workers from scaffold accidents. In Kingston, Marlboro and throughout the Mid-Hudson Valley, a scaffold accident attorney at Rusk, Wadlin, Heppner & Martuscello, LLP has the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to hold contractors accountable for serious injury or death caused by their failure to provide a safe work environment.
New York Labor Law 240(1) – The Scaffold Law
Section 240 of New York Labor Law deals with scaffolding and other devices for use by construction workers. This section of law is commonly known as the “scaffold law,” and it requires contractors and owners to furnish or erect scaffolds whenever necessary, and to provide other proper protection to workers, not only during erection or demolition of buildings, but also during repairing, painting, cleaning and other activities. Contractors and owners are absolutely liable to workers for injuries caused by noncompliance with this law. Absolute liability means that the injured worker does not have to prove that the employer was negligent, but only that this section of the law was violated, and an injury resulted. Lawsuits under section 240(1) are challenging and complex, so it is essential to hire a scaffold accident attorney who is familiar with the applicable case law and can argue successfully in court for the right result.
Third Party Liability for Scaffold Accidents
In addition to contractors and owners who may be liable under 240(1), there are other third parties who may also be liable to injured construction workers under general theories of negligence. For instance, often times scaffolding is provided by an independent contractor or vendor who rents and/or sets up the scaffolding at the work site. If the company rents out unsafe scaffolding materials or installs the scaffolding in a negligent manner, that company could be liable to the injured worker. Likewise, manufacturers of scaffold equipment who use substandard materials or manufacture scaffolds that are poorly designed (such as placing braces too far apart), can be strictly liable for injuries that result from selling a defective product.
There are many different ways injury can occur in a scaffold accident, such as:
- Scaffold collapses – The majority of scaffold accidents occur because the boards and planking used are improperly set up, or they have not been properly maintained and are prone to breaking. Contractors should ensure that all pins are properly inserted, and that the scaffolding is properly anchored with secure footings. Scaffolds should be inspected upon installation and at the start of each shift to ensure they may be used safely.
- Being struck by objects falling of the scaffold, such as unsecured tools or equipment. Barricades and signage at ground level should be in place to keep workers and others safe from falling objects.
- Falls – Falls from heights are the leading cause of death on construction sites. New York labor law requires worker protection such as guard rails, harnesses, netting or other appropriate protections. Also, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires fall protection or fall arrest systems whenever an employee is working on a scaffold ten feet or more above a lower level.
- Electrocution – Scaffolding involves a great deal of metal, which can become energized and lead to fatal electrocution. Contractors erecting scaffolds should ensure sufficient clearance to avoid power lines, and otherwise ensure that the scaffold is properly grounded, de-energized or insulated to avoid electric shock.
Get Help with Hudson Valley Scaffold Accident Claims
If you were injured in a scaffold accident in Ulster County, or if you lost a loved one in a scaffold accident, contact Rusk, Wadlin, Heppner & Martuscello, LLP for a free consultation with an experienced scaffold accident attorney, at 845-331-4100 in Kingston, or 845-236-4411 in Marlboro.