N.Y. Construction Accident Law Part 6: Ladder Accidents

09/09/2013 // New York, NY, USA // jcreiterlaw // Jonathan C. Reiter // (press release)

A subset of gravity related construction accidents are accidents that are caused by a fall from a ladder at a construction site. This area of the law is so extensive that it requires a separate explanation, which follows. New York Labor Law section 240(1) covers falls from ladders, since the force of gravity is the key component of these types of accidents.

There are many different factors to look at in ladder accidents, each one of which can cause a fall from a ladder at a construction site. Those include:

• ladder movement or instability

• ladder overreaching or overbalancing

• defects in the ladder itself

There is a fourth factor involved in most accidents, which involve collisions by other workers or construction vehicles resulting from a lack of vigilance in guarding the area where the ladder is being used. All of these factors can lead to devastating and severe injuries to the worker who is performing his tasks on a ladder.

Jonathan C. Reiter, a construction accident attorney with offices located in the Empire State Building, has handled many construction accident cases, including ladder accidents. He described the safety inspections and steps required by New York regulations and laws, as follows: “There is a duty placed on the owner and general contractor at the work site to perform daily ladder inspections, to clearly mark a defective ladder and remove it from the site, to keep the ladders clean of debris and any chemical substances that could be slippery, to lock or guard doorways and driveways where a ladder is being used, and not to overload a ladder, meaning that a worker on a ladder should not be carrying heavy tools, and that there should only be one worker on a ladder at a time.”

A violation of any one of these regulations can result in a worker falling from a ladder and suffering terrible injuries, including trauma to the head, spine, neck, back, and limbs. As Mr. Reiter stated: “The kinds of injuries from falls from ladders are often devastating to the worker and his family. If it were not for Labor Law 240(1) a worker would only have a claim under workers’ compensation law, which often doesn’t cover the life long disability and loss of income resulting in these injuries. Moreover, without this law, the owners and contractors who are responsible for the safety of their construction sites would not have adequate incentive to make a reasonably safe worksite their top priority. Without this law, the profit motive becomes the top priority, and worker safety becomes secondary.”

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