Fall Through a Floor
Q: An ironworker, I was enlarging an opening in the metal that held a floor. The blade of my power saw jammed, propelling me forward. Through this opening, I fell to the next floor. We had never been provided with safety belts or harnesses, and there were no safety cables anywhere. Following an earlier accident and related surgeries to my right hand, I could not complete a grip exactly the same as I used to, but I am sure that was not the reason for my accident.
A: It sounds like you can make a prima facie showing that, by failing to furnish adequate safety devices, the owner violated Labor Law § 240(1). The owner may choose to defend itself by arguing that, in truth, adequate safety devices were provided. In the alternative, the owner might contend that the sole proximate cause of your fall was that you had prematurely returned to work. With regard to the owner’s first argument, liability under section 240(1) does not attach when safety devices were readily available at the work site, although not in the immediate vicinity of the accident, and you knew you were expected to use them but for no good reason chose not to do so, causing an accident. In such a case, your own negligence would be the sole proximate cause of your injury. As for the owner’s second argument, even if your grip on the saw was not up to full strength as a result of your prior injury, such weakness would at most merely have contributed towards your loss of balance, and cannot as a matter of law have been the sole proximate cause of your fall from one floor to another.
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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