Labor Law 14 : Falling Pipe

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Q: I was employed as an electrician by an electrical subcontractor, and my accident took place in the basement of a building that was under construction.  I had been assigned to run galvanized pipe along the ceiling.  I was standing on a ladder and preparing to install a pipe.  I had put it into a small crevice slightly above my head, so that the pipe could not move easily.  But the pipe came loose and fell, and it struck me on the side of my face.

A: Labor Law § 240 (1) requires owners and contractors to provide workers with appropriate safety devices to protect against such specific gravity-related accidents as falling from a height or being struck by a falling object that was improperly hoisted or inadequately secured.  But not every object that falls on a worker gives rise to the extraordinary protections of the statute.

In order to recover damages for violation of the statute, you must show that, at the time the object fell, it was being hoisted or secured or required securing for the purposes of the undertaking.  You must also show that the object fell because of the absence or inadequacy of a safety device of the kind enumerated in the statute.

Here, it is questionable whether the pipe was in a process of being hoisted or secured, and it is questionable whether securing was even required.  If not, your accident did not result from the special hazards associated with gravity-related accidents covered by the statute, and so does not fall within its scope of that statute.  To succeed against the owner of the building or against the general contractor, you will have to proceed under ordinary principles of negligence.

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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