Why are construction workers under such risk for Injury?

According to NYC Health, construction site accidents will likely increase in the Big Apple. Currently, New York City is experiencing a construction boom, and there is a shortage of trained construction workers to meet the demand. This situation could result in hiring untrained workers or pushing small crews to complete projects faster than they are capable of doing. Such production demands could result in putting construction workers at even greater risk of injury or death than already exist.

How does the New York Scaffold Law help prevent construction site accidents?

When construction workers arrive to work, general contractors provide them with the equipment necessary to do their jobs. Contractors and property owners must provide scaffolds, ladders, harnesses and safety equipment specific for the job, along with cranes, heavy machinery and other standard construction industry machinery. The tools of the trade and the condition the tools are in are something construction workers have very little control over, which means the worker is under the contractor and property owner’s control.

This is why the New York courts, including courts of appeal, have consistently found that strict liability applies to work being done under the Scaffold Law (NY Labor Law 240). Equipment that is inspected and kept in good working order is part of the worker’s right to proper protection under the law, and the courts hold building owners and contractors strictly liable for unsafe work conditions.

Do undocumented workers have the same rights under the Scaffold Law as other construction workers in New York?

Yes, they do have the same rights, based on a 2006 New York Supreme Court ruling in the case BALBUNEA v. Taman Management Corp., Third-Party Defendant-Respondent. The court ruling in this case enabled undocumented workers to recover damages under the Scaffold Law. As long as workers have not given false papers to the employer, employers should know about the undocumented worker’s status. Employers must comply with the Scaffold Law by providing a safe work environment. When safety violations occur, grounds often exist for undocumented workers to recover compensation for damages. To deny them this right would provide less of an incentive for owners and general contractors to comply with New York Labor Law 240, which is vital for protecting all construction workers.

(References: NYC Health: Fatal Injuries Among NYC Construction Workers, BALBUNEA v. Taman Management Corp., Third-Party Defendant-Respondent and New York Labor Law 240)

Our legal team at Sackstein Sackstein & Lee, LLP has the wherewithal and skills to investigate the underlying causes of construction site accidents and hold responsible parties accountable.