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Construction Site Ladder Safety: OSHA Ladder Requirements and Labor Law § 240

Construction projects often involve working at substantial heights on ladders or scaffolds — this means that workers also face a significant risk of fall-related injury or fatality. Under New York State law and federal OSHA guidelines, construction workers must be provided with ladders in good condition, scaffolds, and other protective gear to do their jobs safely. However, falls and other ladder accidents still regularly occur. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, falls from ladders are one of the most common causes of construction-related injury and fatality.  

Ladders Used on Construction Sites   

Depending on the type of construction project and work to be performed, different ladders may be used on a construction site. Various ladder types can include: 

Each type of ladder has different components and specific safety precautions that should be taken. Although workers must ensure that they exercise caution while using a ladder, employers must provide ladders free from defects and adequate training concerning how to use them properly.

OSHA Ladder Requirements

Adhering to the federal OSHA requirements can help prevent construction worker injuries and deaths arising from ladder-related accidents. OSHA provides specific safety guidelines for certain types of ladders that both contractors and construction site workers must follow. There are also general safety requirements for all ladders. OSHA regulations include guidelines for proper ladder placement, the spacing of ladder rungs, minimum width, and methods for safe use.  

Unfortunately, the lack of ladder safety is a common OSHA violation. If an employer does not comply with OSHA guidelines, they can incur a substantial fine. They can also receive a citation which they must post in a visible location for a certain amount of time — either three days or until the unsafe condition is corrected.  

Workers’ Compensation laws in New York generally bar a construction worker from suing their employer. However, in many cases, a third-party’s negligence is to blame for ladder accidents on construction sites. If you were injured due to a third party’s OSHA violation, you may be able to demonstrate that you were not provided with a safe working environment if you pursue a personal injury action for your damages.

Labor Law § 240

Labor Law § 240 is known as New York’s “Scaffold Law.” In addition to the federal OSHA safety guidelines, Labor Law § 240 provides employers with state-specific safety guidelines to prevent height-related accidents — including ladder falls — on construction sites.

Labor Law § 240 imposes strict liability on an owner, contractor, or another responsible party for failing to provide adequate safety equipment to construction workers who work at heights. Not only does this law protect workers from ladder falls, but it can also apply to workers who are struck by falling objects when working on a ladder.  

Pursuing a Claim for Ladder Accident Injuries

Falling off a ladder or having a ladder collapse beneath you can cause severe injuries including broken bones, soft tissue injuries, nerve damage, paralysis, traumatic brain injury, concussion, disfigurement, or lasting disability. In severe cases, ladder accidents can be fatal. 

Under New York State’s Workers’ Compensation laws, construction workers can’t sue their employers for ladder-related accidents. However, a worker may pursue a personal injury action for damages if a third-party such as a sub-contractor, owner, or another party was negligent. If the ladder had a flaw in its design or another manufacturing defect, an injured worker may be able to pursue a product liability claim. 

Contact a New York Construction Accident Attorney

If you were injured or lost a loved one in a construction site ladder accident, you may be entitled to compensation. A personal injury attorney experienced in construction site accidents can advise you of your legal rights and help you recover for your economic and non-economic damages. The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. is experienced in handling claims involving construction site ladder accidents and can help you obtain the maximum compensation you deserve for your injuries. 

The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. has convenient office locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, as well as mobile locations serving Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island, Westchester, Rockland County, Nassau County, and Suffolk County. Contact us today for a free consultation.

John P. Dearie

John P. Dearie is a graduate of Regis High School, The University of Notre Dame, and St. John’s University School of Law. After working at a corporate law firm in New York City for two years following law school graduation, he joined The Dearie Law Firm in 2011.

John represents injured New Yorkers in third-party negligence litigations, as well as first responders, workers, volunteers and residents in claims to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.