Labor Law 1 : Tipping Crane

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Q: My wife was working at a construction site.  During the erection of a building, a crane tipped forward.  This caused a heavy staircase to kill her.  I believe that the crane was overloaded, that insufficient supports had been placed under the crane and that the owner’s failure to compact the backfill area resulted in an inability of the ground area to sustain the load.

A: Your case involves at least two provisions of the Labor Law: section 200(1) and section 241(6).  Section 200(1) codifies a theory of common-law negligence – stating a general duty to protect the health and safety of workers.  Section 241(6) places a non-delegable duty upon owners and general contractors vicariously to respond in damages for injuries sustained due to the negligence of others.

In order to recover under 200(1), you are required to establish that the defendant breached a duty to provide a place of work that is so constructed, equipped, arranged, operated and conducted as to provide reasonable and adequate protection to the lives, health and safety of all persons employed therein.  The duty is to make the premises safe by the discovery of dangers ascertainable through reasonable diligence and by remedying them or warning against them.

If the injury arose out of a defect in the crane operator’s own methods or through the negligent acts of the crane operator occurring as a detail of the work, then the 200(1) duty of the owner and general contractor to provide a safe place to work was not breached.  Absent control over the work – where the general contractor’s supervisor assumed direct responsibility for the method of work performed – the general contractor would not liable under section 200 for the manner in which operations were carried out by the crane operator’s employees.

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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