Construction is a major driving force for the New York economy. The construction industry can also be incredibly dangerous, particularly when construction company owners don’t follow safety standards. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), construction workers suffer one of the highest rates of fatal job injuries out of all industries.
Labor Law 241 is one of several New York statutes that seek to address this issue. It contains specific provisions for construction, demolition, and excavation on construction sites, while also mandating safety equipment and other protections. A violation of this law could demonstrate that an employer or a third party was negligent in a construction accident lawsuit.
The Odierno Law Firm represents injured workers throughout Long Island in workers’ compensation and personal injury claims. We aggressively advocate for the rights of our clients, helping them get maximum compensation for their injuries. Reach out today to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team.
What Is Labor Law 241?
Labor Law 241 is a statute that details safety requirements for construction, demolition, and excavation on worksites. It covers specific types of construction work, outlining safety regulations for:
- Floor construction, to prevent falls between building levels. Under this rule, if each level of flooring isn’t completed as the building construction progresses, the floor two stories immediately below where any work is being performed must be covered by planks.
- Elevators, with a requirement that any shafts and landings of elevators used to transport building materials have barriers on all sides. These barriers can be adjustable on sides that are used to load or unload materials.
- Asbestos exposure, with a prohibition on advertising or contracting for demolition work on structures built before 1974 without first conducting an asbestos survey. If the survey indicates the presence of asbestos, then remediation work must be completed prior to any demolition work.
- Hatch openings, with a requirement that sound planking at least 2 inches thick be laid across elevator shafts, stairwells, and hatch openings to prevent falls and struck-by accidents.
- Glass doors, with a requirement that all transparent glass doors be marked to warn both construction workers and any visitors to the site of the presence of the doors.
The law also provides that all construction, demolition, and excavation work be shored, arranged, equipped, guarded, and/or operated in a way that provides reasonable protection to workers. Both property owners and contractors bear this responsibility, along with the responsibility for complying with other safety rules. However, architects, landscape architects, and professional engineers are not liable for violations of Labor Law 241 if they do not direct or control any of the work being performed.
Industrial Rule 23 is part of Labor Law 241. It provides more specific standards for running a safe job site and also sets out enforceable provisions for when violations occur. It covers construction, demolition, and excavation operations generally, as well as:
- Material hoisting
- Personnel hoists
- Mobile cranes, tower cranes, and derricks
- Power-operated equipment
- Exhaust gasses from internal combustion engines
- Use of explosives
These provisions of law are intended to provide a high degree of protection to construction workers in New York. For example, under the subsection for power-operated equipment, Rule 23 provides that excavating machines shall not be used where unstable ground conditions could lead to the machine tilting dangerously. Under the section for personnel hoists, the rule states that temporary personnel hoists cannot be used until special approval is granted and the hoist meets certain standards for worker safety.
How Does Labor Law 241 Protect Construction Workers?
Labor Law 241 is incredibly protective of workers in the construction industry because it requires a property owner and general contractor to meet certain safety standards for construction, excavation, and demolition work. If a property owner or contractor fails to meet these standards, then they could be held liable for any injuries that result.
Generally, injured workers are limited to seeking workers’ compensation benefits through New York’s workers’ compensation system. Workers’ comp is a no-fault system that is typically an exclusive remedy. This means that workers don’t have to prove that their employer was negligent, but they are limited to seeking workers’ comp benefits.
There are 3 exceptions to this rule: (1) where the employer fails to obtain workers’ compensation insurance coverage for an injured employee; (2) where the employer intentionally injured an employee; and (3) where the injured person is an employee of the N.Y.P.D., F.D.N.Y., or the New York City Department of Sanitation. If your claim doesn’t fall within 1 of these 3 exceptions, then you are probably limited to workers’ comp benefits.
However, you may still be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against your employer or a third party (such as a different construction company working on the job site). A Long Island construction accident attorney can help you determine if your case falls within one of these exceptions, or if you have a potential third-party claim. For example, if you are working for a subcontractor on the job site and are injured in a fall due to a lack of flooring protection, then you could file a claim against the general contractor or another party responsible for complying with those safety regulations.
To win a Labor Law 241 case, you will have to prove a violation of Industrial Rule 23. If a contractor or other party failed to provide adequate protection to workers, they may have liability for any injuries that occurred. To learn more, reach out to schedule a free consultation with a Long Island construction accident lawyer.
How The Odierno Law Firm Can Help
Construction jobs can be incredibly dangerous – but they don’t have to be. When property owners and contractors comply with Labor Law 241 and related rules, the likelihood of serious and fatal injuries decreases significantly. If you are hurt on a construction job, our law office can help you determine if you can file both a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury lawsuit.
The Odierno Law Firm advocates for injured workers throughout Long Island. We offer free initial consultations and handle all cases on a contingency fee basis. 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.
When Does Labor Law 241 Apply?
Labor Law 241 applies to job sites where construction, demolition, or excavation work is being performed. This law sets out specific definitions of these terms. Generally, if a building is being torn down, the ground is being excavated, or a building is being constructed in New York, this law will likely apply. Contractors and property owners are then responsible for providing protective equipment to workers and following other safety rules.
If you have been hurt on a construction site in NY, we can help. Reach out to The Odierno Law Firm to schedule a free consultation with a Long Island construction accident attorney.
What If I Was Partially at Fault for My Construction Site Accident?
Labor Law 241 does not impose absolute liability on property owners and contractors. Under the principles of comparative negligence, your recovery could be reduced by the percentage that you were at fault for the accident. For example, if your employer-provided protective equipment to reduce the risk of exposure to chemicals and you chose to not wear it, then your recovery could be reduced by the percentage that a jury decides that you were at fault for your injuries.
Comparative negligence can be complicated, but it does not mean that you cannot pursue legal action for a construction site accident. Give The Odierno Law Firm a call today to talk to a Long Island construction accident lawyer about your case.
A Loved One Died in a Construction Accident. Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim?
After a fatal construction site injury, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party. This may be possible if an employer or third party violated Labor Law 241, or if there was another form of negligence. You may also qualify for death benefits under New York’s workers’ compensation law.
It is important to talk to an experienced construction accident attorney in Long Island, NY if your loved one died on a construction site. A lawyer will thoroughly investigate the case and work hard to ensure that you get justice for your loved one. Call The Odierno Law Firm to learn more or to schedule a free consultation.