The Falling Slab

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Q: I was employed on a bridge.  Our project involved the removal of its deck, a steel grid filled with concrete. First, we divided the deck into sections, using saws.  Then we attached each segment to cables and chokers; the hook of a crane would then hoist it vertically, and away from the bridge.

As the crane tried to raise a one-ton slab from the surface, one corner rose four feet in the air, while the opposite corner remained stuck to the roadbed.  Our foreman directed that the slab be lifted until the cables were taut.  “You wedge a piece of four-by-four lumber into the spot where the slab is stuck.”  I did so and stood on the other end to keep it in place.

The idea was for the crane slowly to lower the slab to place pressure on the four-by-four in order to pry loose the attached portion of the slab.  The crane operator was supposed to lower the slab slowly.  Instead, the slab descended quickly, causing the four-by-four upon which I was perched to shatter.  I was thrown to the ground.

A: Section 240(1) of the Labor Law requires contractors and commercial owners to furnish or erect scaffolding, hoists, stays, ladders, slings, hangers, blocks, pulleys, braces, irons, ropes, and other devices so as to give proper protection to a person so employed.  Liability under the statute is not limited to instances in which the worker is actually struck by a falling object.  The relevant inquiry is whether the harm flows directly from the application of the force of gravity.

Your accident as direct a consequence of the descent of the slab as would have been an injury to a worker positioned in the descending slab’s path, and so you ought to be able to recover.

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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