NY Labor Law 240: Scaffolding and Ladder Laws

NY Labor Law 240: Scaffolding and Ladder Laws

About 2.3 million construction-related workers spend some of their time on scaffolds each day. According to the US Department of Labor, this accounts for 65 percent of the industry’s workforce. Scaffold falls contribute to the 40 percent of all work-related fatalities in the U.S. Many more people suffer injuries and life-changing conditions as a result of these scaffolding incidents. At Siler & Ingber, LLP, we aim to help you obtain the compensation owed to you after such an event takes place.

Construction Workers Have Rights

Every worker has the legal right to a safe, secure place to work. Employers are responsible for providing this type of environment. Construction work environments tend to be the most challenging places to keep safe due to the numerous risks and dangerous tasks associated with this job. However, there are several laws that aim to protect workers in these situations. In New York, Labor Law Section 240 specifically deals with scaffolding and ladder-related falls.

This law provides workers with protection from injuries and death from falls/falling objects. Workers have the right to recover damages after these types of injuries occurs on a construction site. It applies to:

  • Construction workers that fall from elevated platforms (such as ladders, scaffolding, or planks)
  • Construction workers injured by falling objects from any height

The NY scaffolding law provides some of the most important liability protections for construction workers. It provides coverage where other laws do not. Specifically, this law imposes absolute liability. It is applied directly to the owner or his or her agent in the incident. If a worker falls, suffers damage and losses, and goes to court, the case will focus solely on the amount of damages to be awarded.

Challenges of the Scaffolding Law

Because of how intense and absolute this law is, that employees who fall should have compensation, it is one of the most challenging cases to take to court. These cases are heavily contested and almost always end up in appeals courts. For this reason, it is critical to have a well-established case and an aggressive attorney.

What Are the Requirements of Labor Law 240?

The following requirements must be met before the law can be applied to a case:


The law does not apply to property owners or contractors working on one- or two-family homes. Specifically, this law does not apply when the owner does not have control over the work. If the homeowner directs the work and an incident occurs, then the homeowner can be liable.

This law does directly apply to larger homes (over three families) as well as all commercial buildings and apartments.

Work Done to the Structure

The law only applies if the work is done on the structure itself and not other items (such as trees). All types of structures are covered under this requirement including tunnels, cars, boats, bridges, garages, and buildings.

In addition, the type of work matters. Labor Law 240 only applies if there is demolition, cleaning, erection of the structure, altering, painting, pointing, and/or repairing. This also includes erecting scaffolding, ladders, braces, and other devices.

The law only applies to construction, not the decoration of, maintenance of, or manufacturing of the structure. Here are some examples of work that does not apply:

  • The installation of holiday decorations
  • Cleaning by maintenance staff
  • Changing light bulbs or handling ceiling cleaning
  • Installing HVAC filters or other routine maintenance
  • Inspection of construction sites

The Rule of Gravity

Labor Law 240 also protects workers from the dangers associated with gravity. In other words, gravity caused the individual or an object to fall.

  • Working at heights where an injury occurs – but not a fall – does not qualify
  • A worker’s thermos falls from the scaffolding does not apply because this instance is a result of carelessness, not the failure of the scaffolding

As you may notice, these laws are very extensive, and obtaining liability from them can be challenging. As a result of this, it is important for individuals to seek out the support of an attorney. There are many necessary steps in ensuring you receive the compensation owed to you in scaffolding and ladder injuries.

Schedule a FREE Case Review About Your NY Scaffolding Accident

Individuals who suffer injuries from ladder or scaffolding falls in New York while working may be eligible for compensation. However, proving your injuries and losses can be challenging. For this reason, we highly recommend working with the skilled, experienced liability compensation attorneys at Siler & Ingber, LLP. To learn how we will help you receive the compensation you deserve, call us for a free case review at 877-718-6079 or use our online contact form for more information.

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