On the Ledge
Q: I am a window washer. I wear a safety belt. An adjustable wire runs through the belt, with hooks on each end. While standing inside, I hook one end of the wire to one of two anchors on each side of the window. Then I step onto the window ledge, hooking the other end to the second anchor.
I always keep both ends of the wire hooked to the anchors while washing the window. When finished, I detach the left hook, step inside the building and then detach the right hook.
One day, you could say I made a mistake. While still standing on the window ledge, I tried to detach the right hook, too. It became stuck on the anchor. This was a funny kind of anchor – square – that I had never seen before. Still standing on the ledge, I jiggled the hook with the safety clip open. When I pried it free, I lost my balance.
A: Regardless of your own fault, your attorney will contend that the square anchor was not safe. Under Labor Law § 202, your employer must provide a ‘safe’ anchor, as defined by the industrial board of appeals. The board’s definitions can be far more rigorous than under general negligence law.
Although the statute does not put your employer under strict liability, it still speeds the way to an ample recovery. This is true even discounting for your own fault, under the various rules of comparative negligence.
Most likely, you will also claim a violation of Labor Law § 240(1). Your attorney will argue that other devices, such as a scaffold, could have been constructed, placed and operated so as to give you better protection.
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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