Cat Off the Walk

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Q: With two other workers, I was working to replace an advertisement on a billboard.  It was elevated sixty feet from the ground.  The billboard was composed of a two-sided metal frame, set on a metal tube embedded in the ground.  Like the new advertisement, the old one had been printed on pieces of vinyl.

In order to install the new advertisement, we needed to attach some additions, called extensions, to the existing frame.  An extension is a plywood cutout shaped to accommodate the advertisement’s artwork, when it exceeds the boundaries of the billboard’s frame.  The extension is attached directly to the frame with nails, nuts and bolts.

At one point, in order to get around one of my co-workers, I detached my lanyard (rope) from the catwalk’s safety cable.  Before I was able to reattach the lanyard, a strong wind gust caused a loose piece of the old advertisement to strike me in the chest, knocking me to the ground.

A: From these facts, it appears that you have a viable claim under at least three sections of the Labor Law.

Under section 240(2), that catwalk should have been surrounded by a safety railing.  Apparently, the catwalk was not.

Under section 240(1), a property owner can be liable for failing to provide sufficient safety devices to protect a worker, who is engaged in “altering” a structure, from elevation-related risks.  Installing extensions that change the physical shape of a billboard amounts to altering it.  It should not matter that you were not doing so at the actual moment of the accident.

Similarly, under section 241(6), all areas in which “construction” work is being performed must be so equipped as to provide reasonable and adequate protection and safety to the workers.  Construction includes alteration.

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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