A Worker’s Fall

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Q: At work to restore the facade of a building, I fell from an opening in a structure that extended around the perimeter of the building.  The owner had instructed my employer not to cover the opening with planks.  Instead, my employer tried guardrails.

Supposedly, I had been provided with a safety harness with a safety line – and was supposed to use the line to secure the harness to a fire escape when working near one.  But everyone knows that using the fire escape as anchorage is improper.  Moreover, a proper personal fall system was lacking.

For over a year afterwards, I had no orientation to place and time, was the subject of a court-ordered guardianship and required 24-hour-a-day supervision and the care of a nursing facility.  It is expected that I will never be employable.

A: Under Labor Law § 240(1), the contractor and owner were obliged to furnish or erect scaffolding, hoists, stays, ladders, slings, hangers, blocks, pulleys, braces, irons, ropes and other devices – so as to give you proper protection.

The failure to provide an adequate safety device is a per se violation of Labor Law § 240 for which the owner and contractor are held strictly liable.  They can wriggle out of this only if (a) you had adequate safety devices at your disposal, (b) you both knew about them and that you were expected to use them, (c) for no good reason you chose not to use them, (d) and had you used them, you would not have been injured.  That does not sound like the case.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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