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Non-Delegable Duty Of A Building Owner And General Contractor Under Labor Law § 240(1).

non-delegable duty scaffold law
Thursday, April 8, 2021
By uberuser

NY Scaffold Law

If you have lived in New York City for any amount of time, you have seen your fair share of construction sites, scaffolds, and cranes the size of the skyscrapers. One of the most vital, but understated, bloodlines of the City’s infrastructure is the community of construction workers that works tirelessly to maintain and develop this infrastructure. On a daily basis, these workers risk their health and safety to ensure that construction projects are completed efficiently and effectively, but oftentimes, unfortunately, they are required to work under conditions, and with tools and equipment, which are objectively dangerous.

In order to protect these vital workers, the New York State legislature, has enacted statutes, such a Labor Law §§ 240(1), 241(6), and 200, placing the safety of construction workers at the forefront of the discussion when it comes to construction-related accidents.

Non-Delegable Duty

Labor law § 240(1), for example, was enacted to protect construction workers from height-related injuries. Also known as the “Scaffold Law,” this statute places a non-delegable duty on owners and general contractors to furnish or erect suitable devices to protect workers from elevation-related risks (e.g. being injured by falling from a height or injured by a falling object which was improperly hoisted or inadequately secured). This means that the owner can be held liable for a violation of the statute even if the job was performed by an independent contractor over which the owner did not exercise any supervision or control (Rocovich v. Consolidated Edison Company, 78 NY2d 509, 513 [1991]). This non-delegable duty to the owner and general contractor was codified in a 1969 amendment to § 240(1), which emphasized that it was fixing “ultimate responsibility for safety practices . . . where such responsibility actually belongs, on the owner and general contractor” (NY Legis Ann, 1969, p. 407).  The statute can also be applied to protect construction workers from falling objects that should have been secured by the appropriate equipment.

What this means for an injured construction worker is that even if the injury is proximately caused by a sub-contractor’s negligence – perhaps the worker’s employer – the worker is not limited to pursuing legal action against the sub-contractor alone (or worker’s compensation claim against the employer), but can also establish a case against the building owner or the general contractor, which may have had no direct involvement in the injury-causing activity. The protection afforded under § 240(1) has been a boon to the rights and welfare of construction workers for decades, and has afforded significant recoveries for injured workers when they would otherwise have been limited.

Reach Out Today

The lawyers at the Law Office of Louis Grandelli have extensive experience fighting for the rights of our clients who have been injured in construction accidents. If you or someone you love has been injured in a construction accident, contact our offices for a free consultation.


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