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New York Construction Accidents Involving Falling Objects

October 3, 2012

Our New York construction accident lawyers continuously monitor the developments in the law and Court decisions which affect and interpret the labor laws which protect New York construction workers.

A recent New York Supreme Court decision held that an owner of a construction site and a general contractor were responsible for a New York construction worker’s personal injuries where the injured worker was hurt by a falling object that was only about three feet higher then the level where the worker was standing.The significance of this case is that Labor Law 240 (1) was held to apply to elevation difference of only a few feet. Construction workers, especially in renovation and demolition projects in New York City including those who renovate and demolish buildings in New York City including the boroughs of the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens are constantly exposed to the risk of being injured by a falling object. This new decision strengthens the laws which protect New York construction accident victims.

It has been well established that the Section 240 (1) of the Labor Law protects workers from elevation risks. Specifically, the law seeks to make owners and general contractors strictly liable for hazards that are related to the effects of gravity should they fail to provide proper safety equipment. If there is a difference between the elevation level of the required work and the level where the worker is position, proper safety equipment, such as scaffolding and/or safety tie offs, must be provided by them regardless of whether they sub-contracted out the work and/or supervised the work.

In the case Colella v. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, pending in the Supreme Court in and for the County of New York, a worker (employed by a sub-contractor) was injured when he was using a 90 lb jackhammer to take down a ledge 12 to 18 inches wide and about 3 to 3 ½ feet above the level he was standing. To chip away at the ledge, the worker held the jackhammer above the ground and perpendicular to the wall. The accident occurred when he lost control of the jackhammer and it fell to the ground with the bit penetrating his right foot. The worker argued that the jackhammer should have been tied off and/or that scaffolding should have been build around the ledge to protect him from injury.

The New York Supreme Court made clear that if the construction accident flowed directly from the force of gravity, section 240(1) of the Labor Law would provide a remedy to the injured party. Our Westchester construction accident lawyers have handled many of these cases and are pleased by this decision which reaffirms that if gravity was a substantial cause of the accident the elevation difference is significant and proper safety equipment must be provided. Our White Plains construction accident lawyers have represented numerous victims of construction accidents from all of the towns in Westchester including White Plains, New Rochelle, Bronxville, Mamaroneck, Ossining, Valhalla, Port Chester, Yonkers, Hartsdale, Valhalla, Mount Vernon, Scarsdale, Rye, Tarrytown, Greenburgh and Elmsford.

The Law Offices of Michael H. Joseph