Working in Construction

I WORK IN A CONSTRUCTION SITE. WHAT ARE MY RIGHTS? WHAT IF I HAVE AN ACCIDENT?

I have been noticing that many of the jobs generated in the construction field are going to Latinos.  Given that recent trend, I thought it important to discuss the unique rights and protections New York State provides to construction workers.

Construction workers are exposed to very dangerous working conditions.   It is for that reason our state’s legislature passed two laws that are very important to construction workers.  More specifically, New York State enacted Labor Law sections 240 and 241 to provide specific protection and rights to construction workers.

Labor Law section 240 is designed to protect construction workers from the risks associated with working at heights.  In short, this law requires all general contractors and property owners to provide protection to construction workers from falling from a height or from being struck by something that has fallen from a height.  According to this law, if a construction worker is injured due to a fall, or from being struck by something that has fallen, the general contractor and the owner of the property where the work is being conducted will be entirely responsible in money damages for the worker’s injuries.  Yes, you read right, the general contractor and the property owner will be completely responsible for the worker’s injuries even if the worker himself was partially at fault for the incident.  Even bystanders injured in construction accidents may recover from the person or persons who are at fault.

Labor Law section 241 is much broader than section 240.  Section 241 requires general contractors and owners of construction sites to ensure that the work is performed in accordance with safety rules issued by the Department of Labor.  If a construction worker is injured due to a violation of one of those many rules, the general contractor and property owner will be financially responsible (partially or completely) for the worker’s injuries. 

These laws do not only provide protection to construction workers, but also provide the same rights and protections to people involved in demolition and excavation.  You should also know that these laws provide for a financial recovery above and beyond what an injured worker might recover through a worker’s compensation claim.  In short, if you’re injured on a construction, demolition or excavation site, you should speak with a lawyer about your rights. 

Although it is required that every construction worker be trained as to basic safety guidelines and precautions for operating construction equipment, how to properly lift heavy objects, handling dangerous materials and dangerous liquids, and recognizing potential construction site safety hazards – construction accidents still occur. Defective products, defective machines, improperly marked hazardous materials, improperly secured scaffolding, unsafe safety harnesses, as well as negligent or reckless fellow construction workers may create an unsafe working environment and may seriously injure you or fatally kill one of your fellow construction site workers.

Some of the most common types of construction accidents include : crane accidents; falling object accidents; forklift accidents; scaffolding accidents; roof fall accidents; and run over by construction equipment.

You should keep in mind that this article is not intended to provide you with legal advice; it is intended only to provide guidance about construction law.  Furthermore, the article is not intended to explain or identify all potential issues that may arise in an accident case.  Each case is fact-specific and therefore similar cases may have different outcomes.

I handle construction accident cases.  If you have any questions or concerns about an accident case, you can call me at (315) 422-5673, send me a fax at (315) 466-5673, or e-mail me at joseperez@joseperezyourlawyer.com. The Law Office of Jose Perez is located at 120 East Washington Street, Suite 925, Syracuse, New York 13202. Please look for my next article in the September edition.

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