Falling Sheetrock

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Q: I was one of the workers installing a new sprinkler system, as part of a renovation and construction project.  While going up the staircase, I was hit in the head and rendered unconscious by a piece of falling sheetrock.  Although my employer had provided me with a hard hat, I was not wearing it at the time of the accident.

Shortly after the accident, one of my coworkers saw several large sheets of sheetrock leaning against the wall on the floor right above me.  An extension cord ran from an outlet on the same wall.  One sheet had fallen away from the wall and was leaning against the railing.  A small jagged piece of that sheet had broken away, and was on the landing of the floor right below me.          

A: Section 241 of the Labor Law imposes upon owners and general contractors, and their agents, a nondelegable duty to provide reasonable and adequate protection and safety for workers, and to comply with the specific safety rules and regulations promulgated by the Commissioner of the Department of Labor.

One of those regulations (12 NYCRR 23-1.8) provides that every person required to work or pass within any area where there is a danger of being struck by falling objects shall be required to wear an approved safety hat.  You may have a case that the general contractor should have required you to wear that hat.

You may also have a case under section 200 of the Labor Law.  The section is a codification of the common-law duty of an owner or general contractor to provide workers with a safe place to work.  It appears that a dangerous condition existed on the staircase.  Quite possibly, the GC either created, or should have known about, the dangerous condition with the sheetrock.

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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