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Understanding New York Labor Law 240, Scaffolding Accidents

Experienced, Bronx scaffolding accident attorneys explain law, your rights

Scaffolding accidents often result in injuries. Each year, an estimated 10,000 people sustain serious injuries and more than 60 deaths occur in construction accidents in the United States involving scaffolding, according to statistics compiled by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). They additionally reported over 204,000 overall serious construction accident injuries in 2015.

Last year, 74 construction workers died in a single scaffolding collapse accident at a construction site in China, according to The New York Times. That's why it's critical that we have laws that are designed to protect construction workers from serious injuries or fatalities caused by scaffolding accidents.

For more than a century, New York State has been at the forefront of protecting the rights of construction workers who work on scaffolding. And one the most important pieces of legislation enacted to prevent scaffolding accidents is New York Labor Law 240, which is also sometimes referred to as the New York Labor Law 240 (1)

What is New York Labor Law 240?

Changes in building technology in the late 1800s enabled companies to quickly and consistently build taller buildings. Due to the invention of structural steel in the 1800s, buildings could easily be built significantly higher. In 1884, a 12-story skyscraper was built in Chicago using this new technology. By 1890, buildings as tall as 20 stories were being built in New York City. Nowadays, the tallest building in New York City, One World Trade Center, is 1,776 feet high.

In response to such developments in building construction in the 19th century, lawmakers in New York enacted new labor laws designed to protect construction workers who work on scaffolding and significantly greater heights.

In particular, New York Labor Law 240, often called the "Scaffold Law," went into effect in 1885 and includes regulations outlining a company's responsibility to safely install building scaffolding and guidelines detailing safety standards designed "to give proper protection to a person so employed," the law states.

Other laws designed to prevent scaffolding accidents

Along with New York Labor Law 240, OSHA enacted several federal laws designed to prevent scaffolding accidents. Such federal laws include OSHA Standard 1926, Subpart L, which "applies to all scaffolds used in workplaces," according to the federal regulation last revised in 2010.

OSHA Standard 1926, Subpart L, includes specific requirements for numerous items related to construction scaffolding, including:

  • Maximum capable weight for suspension ropes
  • Maximum allowed weight for scaffold hoists
  • Maximum width of planks used to for scaffolding decking
  • Minimum width of scaffolding platform walkways

Why do scaffolding accidents happen?

Despite such efforts to prevent scaffolding injuries, many accidents still occur every year. So why do scaffolding accidents still happen? Some of the most common causes include:

  • Scaffolding collapses due to:
    • Inexperienced or untrained workers constructing scaffolding
    • Defective materials used to build scaffolding
    • Scaffolding improperly secured to building
  • Hazardous conditions
  • Falling debris
  • Unmarked hazards
  • Loose railings

Whatever the cause of your New York scaffolding accident, don't simply assume that you will be fairly compensated for your injuries. Make sure you know your rights. Contact Giampa Law. Our legal team has decades of experience handling some of the most serious construction injuries involving scaffolding accidents. Depending the circumstances of your accident, you may even qualify for a third-party construction accident claim.

Experience matters. Make sure you have a lawyer who understands New York's scaffolding laws and know how to get results. Make sure you have Giampa Law on your side. Call now.

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