The Anti-gravity Law

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Q: My coworkers and I were directed by the general contractor to move a large reel of wire, weighing over 800 pounds, down a set of stairs.  Instead of giving us a pulley or hoist to prevent the reel from rolling freely down the flight, the contractor told us to fasten the reel to one end of a rope.

Two coworkers and I held the loose end of the rope – while two others began to push the reel down the stairs.  We were supposed to be counterweights.  It did not work; the reel began to plummet.  Before I could let go, I had injured myself.  My friend says that, because I was above a heavy object, rather than below it, New York’s anti-gravity law cannot help me.  What is he talking about?

A: Nothing that he understands.  Under New York Labor Law § 240(1), a general contractor must furnish or erect a variety of safety devices in order to protect a person employed in the alteration of a building from harm directly flowing from the application of the force of gravity.

The purpose of the statute is to protect construction workers from the severe risks arising from elevation differentials at construction work sites.  Your accident arose from just such a risk: the reel needed to be moved from a higher to a lower elevation; the danger arose from the force of a heavy object’s unchecked descent.

The harm to you was the direct consequence of the application of the force of gravity to the reel.  It does not matter that you were positioned above the reel, rather than below it.

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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