Chopra & Nocerino, LLP

Scaffolding regulations: an overview

OSHA estimates that 65 percent of construction workers frequently use scaffolding. Scaffolding accidents are all too common and result in some of the most serious injuries in the industry. This is why construction employers will want to make sure they comply with OSHA regulations and know what New York labor laws have to say regarding liability.

OSHA regulations are clear about the design and construction of scaffolds in addition to their capacity. Each scaffold and scaffold component must be able to support its own weight in addition to at least four times the maximum intended load. Suspension ropes must support at least six times the maximum intended load.

Employers are required to inspect scaffolding and scaffold components before every shift when they are used. A trained individual must inspect the fall protection equipment like harnesses and lanyards, and employers must replace any visibly worn or damaged equipment.

If inadequate safety regulations and devices lead to workers being injured in falls or by falling objects, New York Labor Law section 240 will impose absolute liability on the contractor or work site owner. The plaintiff need not have been personally employed by the defendant. Previous court decisions suggest that even plaintiffs who were injured through their own negligence may have a good chance of succeeding with their claim.

Injured construction workers might still choose to consult with a lawyer if they want to file a claim in the wake of a scaffolding accident. They can only file a personal injury claim if there is evidence of negligence on the employer's part, but a lawyer may be able to hire investigators and other professionals to obtain the necessary proof. The lawyer may then negotiate for a fair settlement covering medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. As a last resort, victims might take their case to court.

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