Construction projects in New York range from tunnels and bridges to roadways and skyscrapers and most projects come with an element of danger for workers.
Construction companies must adhere to the provisions set out in the New York Labor Law, which addresses safety and assigns liability for injuries to workers.
The New York Labor Law has been in effect since the 1880s and construction firms of every size feel its impact. Given the breadth of the industry in New York and the potential for lawsuits, it is essential for members of all construction trades as well as property owners to become familiar with the NYLL.
The NYLL has different sections to explore. For example, NYLL200 states that property owners and general contractors must “exercise reasonable care” to keep workers safe. NYLL240, known as the Scaffold Law, assigns liability to owners and contractors if a worker suffers a height- or gravity-related injury. NYL241 holds property owners, contractors and their agents liable for injuries related to demolition, excavation or construction.
Certain situations can increase liability:
- Use of a verbal agreement or handshake in place of a written contract
- Use of a contract that does not contain insurance requirements
- Use of a contract that does not contain hold harmless and indemnification language
- Failure to adequately screen contractors
- Failure to use subcontractor agreements
- Allowing work to go forward at a jobsite that does not adhere to OSHA requirements
- Failure to provide employee training, proper equipment and ladder alternatives per the OSHA Fall Protection programs
- Allowing outsiders to use company tools and equipment
The way forward
In view of the scope of the NYLL, the best course of action for any construction company or property owner is to ensure a safe working environment and take the necessary precautions to protect employees and subcontractors. Workers injured while working on a New York construction project can explore avenues of responsibility and may qualify to receive just compensation from more than one source.