Falls from scaffolding in New York are not only the most common cause of serious injury on construction sites, but they often result in many fatalities. New York statutes state that owners and contractors own the responsibility and liability for damages caused as a result of scaffolding negligence.
According to the City of New York, employers must provide safety equipment and adequate training for workers, and have safeguards in place that help minimize the risk of falls for on-site workers using scaffolding.
Who is allowed to work on scaffolding?
If your construction site utilizes scaffolds, at least one “competent” person familiar with the system must be on-site while they are in use. This person directs workers to construct, move and take apart the platforms and associated rigging. The same individual may also conduct the training necessary for ensuring safety during each stage of the process.
A “qualified” scaffold worker typically has particular industry qualifications and knowledge. They may or may not be the same person that oversees scaffold assembly and training.
Additional responsibilities for competent and qualified personnel include:
- Inspecting the scaffold system at the end of each shift
- Identifying unsafe conditions
- Confirming scaffolds are safe after an event that may have negatively impacted their structural integrity
- Having the authority to correct any issues, even if it means stopping work
Scaffolds more than 20 feet above the ground have specific safety requirements that outline the equipment workers must use, in addition to railing specifications. They also have maximum load-bearing limits. Any employee using scaffolding must receive the necessary training before working on them.
Who is at risk?
A variety of workers must use scaffolds during their duties, such as electricians, window washers, painters, maintenance workers and steeplejacks. The strict liability of state safety laws creates a non-delegable duty for contractors and owners. This means they cannot delegate responsibility for an accident to a foreperson or other employee.
If you sustained injuries due to negligence at a construction site, contact an experienced attorney to learn more about your options for moving forward.