Employees, employers and insurance agents are likely aware of New York’s Labor Law 240, also commonly known as the “Scaffold Law.”

The 1885 law was created with the intent of protecting construction workers from any injury caused by a fall or other incident involving elevation. Under Labor Law 240, injured employees can hold their employers liable for compensation no matter the cause of the injury. It is important for employers and their insurance agents to inform themselves about it, because the law is so unique.

The law is one of a kind

New York is the only state in the United States to have a scaffold law with absolute liability. This means that an employer is responsible for 100 percent of the liability. An injured worker cannot be held even partially responsible for their injury, even if they were the cause.

For example, an employer is responsible for an employee’s injury if:

  • The employee had proper training, yet ignored said training
  • The employee was under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • The employee was provided safety equipment but failed to use them

There are some exceptions

This law hinges on the idea that a worker was injured while on a piece of elevation equipment (ex. a scaffold, ladder rope or hoist). If the injury did not result from a fall or equipment falling, the law does not apply.

Furthermore, if a construction worker was injured outside the scope of their work, for example if they were injured after falling down the stairs at home, the Scaffold Law is not applied.

This law causes much controversy in the state of New York, especially for those in relevant fields. Knowing the situations when the law is applied and when it is not is crucial for all.