Each year, thousands of construction workers are injured on job sites across New York. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), five of the most frequently standard worker safety regulations violated in the United States were specifically related to the construction industry. In 2020 alone, 976 construction workers died on the job.
Section 200 of the New York Labor Law attempts to address this issue by requiring owners and contractors to make job sites under their control “reasonably safe” for workers. If a property owner or contractor violates this law and a worker is hurt as a result, it may demonstrate that they acted negligently. This may be used as evidence in a construction accident lawsuit brought on behalf of an injured worker.
The Odierno Law Firm advocates for construction workers and other injury victims throughout New York. Our legal team fights to ensure that our clients get maximum compensation for their injuries through workers’ compensation claims and/or personal injury lawsuits. Reach out today to schedule a free consultation with a Long Island construction accident lawyer.
What Is Labor Law 200?
Workplace injuries can happen in almost any industry. Unfortunately, certain industries – such as construction – have a far higher rate of on-the-job accidents and injuries than others. With heavy machinery, scaffolding, tools, and more on the typical construction site, it isn’t surprising that these jobs tend to be dangerous. However, these dangerous conditions are often made worse by a failure to take the proper safety precautions.
Labor Law 200 attempts to offer additional protection to construction workers by requiring construction sites to be equipped, operated or arranged in a way that provides “reasonable and adequate protection” to both employees and people who visit these sites. Under this rule, machinery, equipment, and devices must be placed, operated, and guarded in a way that provides protection to workers.
This law does not simply encourage owners and contractors to provide a safe workplace. It also gives the state the power to essentially shut down a site for workplace safety violations. If the Labor Commissioner finds that there are unsafe conditions on the site – including unsafe machinery, equipment, or devices – then they may post a notice warning of the danger and prohibit further work until the dangerous condition has been corrected. The Attorney General’s Office may enforce this notice through a legal proceeding that forbids the use of the machinery or equipment or work on the job site
When a contractor or property owner fixes the dangerous condition, they must provide written notice to the Labor Commissioner. The site will then be re-inspected within 10 working days. If the condition has been corrected, then the notice will be removed.
How Does Labor Law 200 Protect Workers?
Labor Law 200 takes a 2 pronged approach to worker protection. First, it requires construction company owners and contractors to maintain a safe work environment. This may include doing things like providing safety equipment and protective equipment as well as making sure that the physical work site and equipment are safe.
Second, if an unsafe condition is discovered, it gives the Department of Labor the authority – enforceable by the Attorney General – to shut down the site entirely or forbid the use of a piece of machinery. This second prong is particularly important, as stopping work on a construction job can cost construction companies and property owners a lot of money. In this way, the rule incentivizes contractors and owners to maintain safe working conditions and to fix any unsafe conditions that may be found.
When Is Labor Law 200 Applicable?
Labor Law 200 applies to most types of construction work performed on a construction site. This includes:
- New Construction
- Building Repairs
- Property Alterations
These rules apply to both residential and commercial construction. It also applies to the site itself as well as adjacent areas – such as walkways – that construction workers may use as they go about their day.
In addition to requiring that the job site itself is safe, Labor Law 200 provides that any machinery, equipment, or devices used in construction meet safety standards. For example, if a saw is missing a protective cover, that may be the type of safety violation that could get a notice posted on that piece of machinery.
Labor Law 200 is an additional layer of protection on top of other workplace health and safety laws, such as the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA) and other New York worker safety laws. It is intended to increase worker safety in such a dangerous industry, and help to avoid the dangerous, sometimes fatal, toll that this type of work can take on New Yorkers.
Can I Sue for a Labor Law 200 Violation?
Labor Law 200 does not give construction workers a separate cause of action for a workplace injury. However, the fact that a property owner or contractor has a history of violations under Labor Law 200 could be used to support a personal injury lawsuit.
Generally, New Yorkers who suffer an on-the-job injury or illness are limited to filing for workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ comp is a no-fault system of insurance, which means that employees don’t have to prove that their employer did something wrong in order to recover. It is also typically an exclusive remedy; in many cases, injured workers cannot file a lawsuit against their employer for a workplace injury.
However, there are situations where an injured construction worker can file a personal injury lawsuit against a third party or even their employer. For example, if their employer fails to carry workers’ comp insurance in violation of the law, a worker who is hurt on the job may be able to file a lawsuit. Alternatively, if a different contractor on the job site causes the injury, then the injured worker could file what is known as a third-party lawsuit.
In a personal injury lawsuit, a Long Island construction accident attorney can use evidence of Labor Law 200 violations to demonstrate negligence. These violations can be useful as your lawyer builds a strong case for compensation against your employer or a third party.
How Our Law Firm Can Help
When you are hurt on the job, you may be unsure of your rights and your options for seeking financial compensation. Many injured workers are unaware that they could potentially file a personal injury lawsuit to recover money beyond what standard workers’ compensation benefits typically offer. If the construction company or a third party has violated Labor Law 200, it may be helpful to demonstrate the at-fault party’s negligence.
Based in Melville, The Odierno Law Firm represents injured workers throughout Long Island. We offer free initial consultations, and never charge a fee unless we recover money for you. To learn more or to schedule an appointment with a Long Island construction accident lawyer, give us a call at 631-295-4149 or fill out our online contact form.
Who Is Responsible for Keeping a Construction Site Safe?
In New York, the primary responsibility for keeping construction sites reasonably safe falls on the property owner and the general contractor. Under Labor Law 200, these parties have to make sure that the site itself and any equipment and machinery that you use is safe. They must also provide property safety equipment for the job.
If you were hurt in a construction site accident, you should not agree to any settlement or waive any of your rights until you have had a chance to talk to a lawyer. In Nassau County, contact The Odierno Law Firm to talk to a construction accident attorney about your claim.
Is It Better to File a Lawsuit or File for Workers’ Comp After a Construction Accident?
Workers’ compensation provides cash benefits for lost wages and medical treatment for injured workers. By comparison, a personal injury lawsuit may result in financial compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, future medical treatment, and intangible losses like pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. As a result, personal injury lawsuits may result in a higher financial recovery.
However, injured workers are limited to filing a workers’ comp claim against their employer. There are exceptions to this rule where you can file a lawsuit against your company or even a third party. Reach out to The Odierno Law Firm to talk to a Long Island construction accident lawyer about your case.
I’m Out of Work After a Construction Accident. How Can I Afford a Lawyer?
Personal injury law firms typically work on a contingency fee basis. This means that you don’t have to pay anything out of pocket. Instead, your lawyer will get paid a percentage of your total recovery – but only if they work out a settlement or win a verdict at trial.
Contingency fee arrangements let you hire a construction site accident lawyer even if you don’t have extra cash to pay an hourly fee. In Long Island, call The Odierno Law Firm to schedule a free initial consultation with a member of our legal team.
Related: NEW YORK CONSTRUCTION LABOR LAW 241