How Does New York’s Scaffold Law Protect Workers?

Western New York Personal Injury Law Blog

How Does New York’s Scaffold Law Protect Workers?

Everybody knows the construction industry is dangerous due, in large part, to the great heights at which individuals must work. It is for this reason basic safety laws exist. The workers deserve to be protected.

Yet according to the most recent Deadly Skyline report, falls remain the top cause of fatalities on construction sites. In addition, fall protections account for the most frequent construction site violation cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

All of this underscores the continued need for the Scaffold Law.

Why is the Scaffold Law important?

As the Center for Justice Democracy points out, workers themselves generally have little control over things like equipment and the implementation of safety measures on a site. These workers are instead relying on other parties to look out for their well-being.

The Scaffold Law, which is unique to New York, actually dates back to the late 1800s. Essentially, it requires property owners and contractors to provide basic fall protections for workers on a construction site. That can include things like proper guard rails, secure attachment mechanisms, the availability of personal safety equipment and thorough training.

If a party fails to make the site safe for the construction workers, they can be held liable for related falls that occur as a result. In this way, victims are able to hold those in power accountable for their neglectful actions.

Campbell & Associates recently won scaffold case

We recently utilized the Scaffold Law on behalf of a 35-year-old painter of industrial tanks who was required to scrape and paint the interior surfaces of large holding tanks at a Chautauqua County business but was not provided with proper scaffolding or fall protection equipment. He unfortunately fell and suffered a serious shoulder injury that required surgery and continues to cause him pain and limitations.  Once we gathered all the evidence, a Supreme Court justice found the defendants to have been in violation of the law and they settled for $825,000.

What does Scaffold Law allow in compensation?

When a construction worker falls and suffers an injury, the Scaffold Law allows them to file a personal injury lawsuit against a contractor or site owner that failed to provide a safe environment. Families of those who tragically die in such falls may also consider legal action. Compensation could include damages such as:

  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of companionship (often referred to as consortium)
  • Medical care costs

All the law asks is that responsible parties take basic steps to ensure workers on a construction site are protected from preventable falls. The high number of fall protection violations coupled with continuously high fall fatality figures suggest many of these third parties are simply not taking safety seriously enough.


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