New York’s construction industry has one of the lowest occupational fatality rates in the nation. Although construction work is by nature more dangerous than many other jobs, those working within the confines of tight city spaces often find additional hazards with which to contend when performing job related duties. High rise buildings present challenges not found in other areas of the construction industry. Despite this, it is not just work on skyscrapers that poses a problem for construction workers, as a fall from a much shorter distance can still cause serious injuries or even death.

Because of this, the “Scaffold Law” (Labor Law Sec. 240), requires general contractors and building owners to provide adequate protection from such falls. This includes the use of appropriate safety equipment to include proper harnesses, hoists and scaffolds. Should an accident occur at the work site due to an owner or contractor not providing this protection, they will be held responsible for not observing the Scaffold Law.

In the case of Henry v. Eleventh Avenue L.P., the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division granted the plantiffs’ motion for summary judgment. This case represents only one of hundreds of incidents which happen each year at construction sites across the nation. Patrick Henry, the plaintiff, struck his head and fell eight feet to the ground while installing waterproofing on the roof of a shanty as described in the June 20, 2011 Decision and Order file published on Under the Scaffold Law, Henry won the case because the defendants failed to provide any safety equipment or devices to prevent the fall from happening.

Contractors wishing to avoid finding themselves in the same situation must take the necessary steps to provide proper safety equipment for any workers who may be risk of similar falls. By doing so, contractors are not only free of liability in most situations but also ensure each worker is able to work safely without accident or injury.