The Creaky Ladder

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Q: I was an electrical foreman, checking the 12-feet tall outdoor light poles at a large arena, using one of the arena’s eight-foot wooden A-frame ladders.  Sometimes I would simply touch a bulb and give it a little tightening.  At other times, I would need to fix a socket, spring, clip or other part.

At each pole, I would set the ladder up, push the spread bars and lock them in place.  I would then climb the ladder, do my job, descend the ladder and bring it with me to the next pole.  Maybe while I was twisting a globe to remove it, the ladder cracked, and I fell to the ground.  My accident report indicates that I was on a ladder changing globes on light poles, when the ladder snapped.

A: To the extent that you were engaged in repairs, rather than replacement in the course of normal wear and tear, then your attorney may choose to proceed under section 240(1) of the Labor Law, which can require an owner, among others, to furnish or erect devices that will give you proper protection.  The statute applies only to “erection, demolition, repairing, altering, painting, cleaning or pointing” – but not to routine maintenance.

You may have an even stronger case under section 241(6) of the Labor Law, as clarified by section 23-1.4(b)(13) of the Industrial Code.  That is, the owner had a nondelegable duty of reasonable care to provide reasonable and adequate protection and safety in the “construction, erection, alteration, repair, maintenance, painting or moving of buildings or other structures.”  In addition, facts like yours suggest that your attorney will proceed under section 200 of the Labor Law and under a theory of common-law negligence.

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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