Shovel vs. Loader

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Q: As a maintenance worker at a snow jumping complex, I was assisting a work crew that was installing a snow-making pipe.  Rising from a front-end loader, a hydraulic-operated clamshell bucket would lift the pipe above the ground and then hold the pipe in place, in the jaws of the clamshell.

Unfortunately, there was no chain, rope or any other safety device to prevent the pipe from falling in the event of machine malfunction.  Suddenly the jaws of the clamshell bucket opened and released the pipe.  It pinned me to the ground, causing serious injury to my legs and feet.

A: Labor Law § 241(6) requires owners and contractors 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.

Meanwhile, section 23–9.4(e) of the Industrial Code provides that any load handled by certain types of equipment shall be suspended from the bucket or bucket arm by means of wire rope having a safety factor of four.  The rope shall be connected by means of either a closed shackle or a safety hook capable of holding at least four times the intended load.

The section gives as an example a power shovel.  Your attorney will argue that the regulation clearly addresses situations in which construction equipment is used to lift materials and sets forth pertinent safety standards.  The front-end loader here was used to accomplish the same task as a power shovel.  It would be inconsistent with the purpose of the regulation, and cause an objectionable result, to say that this crucial safety precaution does not apply.

The Industrial Code must be sensibly interpreted and applied to effectuate its purpose of protecting construction laborers against hazards in the workplace.  A court must take into consideration the function of a piece of equipment, and not merely its name.

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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