Workers in New York have some good protections against unsafe work environments. The Labor Law here has three sections that can be applied to construction sites, so all construction workers should know what kinds of protections they have.
There are three specific sections with which you should be familiar. These are 200, 240 and 241. While these can apply to construction sites as a whole, you can also find information about liability when there is an injury due to scaffolding. These laws don't put additional burdens on the workers, but, instead, they demand that the construction companies take the initiative to keep these sites safe.
Labor Law 200
Labor Law 200 is a general protection section for construction workers. Instead of focusing on everything that could go wrong at a construction site, this section simply notes that a construction company is expected to provide a safe work site for the workers. It does specifically denote that construction companies must take care with equipment and it places the burden for safety on the company instead of being able to allow them to pass it off on the workers.
Labor Law 240
Labor Law 240 is cited often when dealing with construction site issues. It is also known as the scaffold law because it protects workers from falls from heights. This law places absolute liability on the construction company for falls from scaffolds and other structures. The construction company must provide safety gear, such as harnesses, that will help to prevent workers from falling. The company is also responsible for making sure that the scaffolds, ladders and other structures are in usable condition.
Labor Law 241
Labor Law 241 enhances the duties for a safe construction site by setting up requirements for the company regarding other aspects of construction sites. It specifically touches on water accidents, drownings, tripping accidents, air contamination, slipping incidents and chemical hazards. It also sets expectations for how construction sites are set up, including for sites with structures that have to be demolished.
While it is important for workers to be as safe as they can, the burden will usually fall on the company. For this reason, workers who are injured can seek benefits from workers' compensation for the harm done. There is also a chance they can file a third-party claim if there was a party other than the construction company at fault, such as if the injury was due to a defective power tool.