Like a Spider’s Web

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Q: I was working for a company that removes trees.  During Hurricane Sandy, a tree had fallen onto some overhead electrical wires situated above the railroad tracks.  Without first removing the tree, the wires could not be repaired.  Without those wires, train service could not be restored.

A: I was standing on the ground – using a power saw to cut through the tree trunk.  Suddenly, the tension of the wires released, propelling the tree upward into the air.  The tree then broke in two and fell, striking my leg.

Section 241(6) of the Labor Law imposes a nondelegable duty of reasonable care upon owners and contractors to provide reasonable and adequate protection and safety to persons employed in, or lawfully frequenting, all areas in which construction, excavation or demolition work is being performed.

Under section 23-1.4(b)(13) of the Industrial Code, construction work consists of “[a]ll work of the types performed in the construction, erection, alteration, repair, maintenance, painting or moving of buildings or other structures”.

In determining whether these wires were a ‘structure’, the classic factors for a court to consider include the following: the wires’ size, purpose, design, composition, and degree of complexity; the ease or difficulty of their assembly and disassembly; the tools required to create them and dismantle them; the manner and degree of their interconnecting parts; and the amount of time they are to exist.

From the information you have given me, I believe that your attorney will argue that these wires qualify as a structure.  Accordingly, you were engaged in a type of work performed in the repair of a structure.

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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