The Catapult

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Q: In the course of their employment on a construction project, my husband and his coworkers were unloading a bundle of rebar (steel reinforcing bars) from a flatbed truck.  Following the issuance of a partial stop work order by the Department of Buildings, they were prevented from using a crane to lift the bundles, which weighed 8,000 pounds each, and measured 40 feet in length.  Instead, the crew began using crow bars to roll the bundles of rebar off of the wooden planks on which they were resting on the bed of the truck.

As one of the bundles began to fall from the truck, the shift in weight caused a wooden plank to catapult my husband into the air from the bed of the truck, where he had been standing.  He fell 20 feet to the ground, and also was immediately struck by the same plank when it fell upon his back.

A: The launch of your husband from the truck, along with the wooden plank upon which he was standing, flowed directly from the application of the force of gravity to the bundle of rebar.  The elevation differential between the flatbed truck and the ground was significant given the 8,000-pound weight of the bundles of rebar, and the amount of force they were capable of generating.  The causal connection between the bundles’ inadequately-regulated descent and your husband’s injury was unmediated by any safety device, such as the crane that ordinarily should hoist such bundles.

Labor Law § 240(1) was designed to prevent those types of accidents in which the protective devices prove inadequate to shield the injured worker from harm directly flowing from the application of the force of gravity to an object or person.  Clearly, the defendants violated section 240(1) by failing to provide an enumerated safety device to secure the bundle of rebar as it was being lowered.

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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