New York Labor Law §240(1) requires owners and general contractors to provide a safe place to work and protect workers from sustaining injury due to certain types of hazards while engaged in construction. This includes protecting workers from falls through unprotected and unguarded openings in the floor at the worksite causing injury. The New York Courts have recognized the obvious risk of injury when working near an open hole in the floor. The Courts have held building owners and general contractors totally liable for injuries suffered by construction workers falling through hazardous openings.
The reason for the existence of the opening does not change the strict responsibility placed upon the owner and general contractor. For example, elevator shaft openings, stairwell openings, holes specifically left in floors for piping and air ducts, and all holes large enough for a person to fall through are considered hazardous and must be protected and guarded to prevent workers from falls and sustaining injury.
An injured worker who sustains injury from a fall through a hazardous opening is not required to prove any negligence on the part of the owner or general contractor under Labor Law §240(1). The injured construction worker need only prove that a violation of the statute was a cause of his injury. For example, the Courts have held that the statute was violated when there was nothing covering an opening on an elevated floor to prevent a worker from falling several stories and sustaining injury. The Courts have held that the statute was violated when the covering over a hole moved when pressure was applied and caused the worker to fall through and sustain injury. The Courts have held that the statute was violated when an uncovered opening was not surrounded by rope, cones, or other type of barricade to prevent a worker from falling through and sustaining injury. The Courts have held that the statute was violated when a worker fell through an opening and sustained injury and was not provided with a safety harness and safety rope or otherwise tied off. The Courts have held that the statute was violated when a worker fell through an opening and there was no netting to prevent injury.
If you or a loved one has been injured through a construction accident you may want to contact an experienced attorney who can analyze the facts of your case and help determine whether the owner and general contractor violated New York Labor Law §240(1). We offer over 20 years of experience at Jacob Oresky & Associates, PLLC and are here to help you. You can contact us by telephone 24 hours a day, seven days a week 800-993-6134. You may also contact us online.