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Construction Workers Protected under New York State Labor Laws

New York City is world renowned for its spectacular architecture, iconic for the hundreds of skyscrapers that grace the city’s skyline.  Given the building density, construction projects are constantly in progress all over the city to keep buildings safe and up to code.  However, in the process of performing these jobs, workers are often injured.  Fortunately, workers who are hurt while performing work-related duties may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits to address the cost of treatment and to lessen the financial strain that missed work time usually brings. Beyond the assistance offered by these payments, there are statutory provisions for injured construction workers to pursue additional compensation for injury-related costs that fall outside of the scope of workers’ comp coverage.

Special protections are offered to construction workers in New York under New York State Labor Laws. These statutes allow workers who are injured while performing the following duties to recover financial compensation from third parties in certain situations: construction; renovations; repairs; painting; and cleaning. An injured worker may pursue third party compensation for lost wages, lost pension and annuity benefits, loss of health insurance, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.  In New York City, the city itself may be sued under NYC Labor Laws.  This can occur when an individual is working on a construction job that was mandated by the city.  For such a case it is extremely important that an injured worker is aware that a Notice of Claim must be filed within 90 days of the injurious incident.

One of the pertinent sources of worker protection is found in New York Labor Law Section 200.  Section 200 states that all construction industry employers have a general duty to protect the health and safety of their employees and that adequate protection must be provided in all work areas.  Specifically, this law requires that employers properly maintain, guard, light, and operate all machinery and other equipment on the site.  Section 200 only applies when an employer or contractor has an actual or constructive notice of unsafe conditions.

Section 240 of the labor law, also known as the Scaffolding Law, pertains to liability for accidents involving heights, in which the force of gravity is a significant contributor to injury.  This law is intended to protect workers who frequently work on elevated platforms to perform work-related duties.  Under the law, the owner/contractor of a site is responsible for regulatory compliance and ensuring safety.   Family homeowners, professional engineers, and architects who are not directing the construction work cannot be held accountable for injuries.

Finally, New York State Labor Law Section 241 offers protection for construction workers faced with workplace hazards that do not involve height. Under Section 241, construction site owners/contractors are responsible for ensuring that they provide all necessary safety equipment and that on-site practices do not endanger workers.

Despite the intent of these laws and regulations, construction site accidents continue to occur with great frequency. Workers who are hurt may be faced with injury-related expenses that they are unable to manage on their own. Fortunately, a skilled and experienced attorney may be able to help. If you or someone you know has been injured in a New York construction accident, contact Hach & Rose, LLP.


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