Labor Law § 241(6) – Construction, Excavation, and Demolition Worker Rights
Labor Law section 241(6) places a non-delegable duty on the owners of buildings, agents, and contractors to ensure a construction, excavation, or demolition worksite is safe for workers. This means that owners, agents, and contractors can be held responsible for injuries on a worksite even if they do not direct or control the work. However, unlike the Scaffold Law, section 241(6) does not provide absolute liability for injuries, because the statute does not lay out the specific standard of workplace safety which owners, agents and contractors must follow. Rather, section 214(6) refers to standards laid out under New York Codes for Construction Worker Safety, or Rule 23. The details of these rules can be found in the links on the right. This article lays out the necessary elements to sustain a claim under section 241(6).
For section 241(6) to apply, an injured worker must prove that the defendant is either an owner, agent, or a contractor, that the worksite is not a 1-2 family home owned by the defendant who does not direct or control the work, and that the defendant is not an architect or engineer who does not direct or control the work. Furthermore, the work being performed when the injury occurred must have been in the nature of constructing or demolishing a building, or excavating a site for the purposes of construction or demolition. Finally, the cause of the injury must have been from a violation of one of the specific safety codes laid out in the New York Codes for Construction Worker Safety.
The law does not impose liability on the owner, agent, or contractor for injury to just anyone. Section 241(6) only applies to a protected class of people; namely, construction workers, persons permitted or suffered to work on a construction site, or a worker who is lawfully frequenting the construction site. This includes workers who choose to keep working after the end of their shifts, but it does not include those not regularly found on a construction site, such as a food delivery person or a trespasser.
Finally, to hold an owner, agent, or contractor liable under section 241(6), a worker must not only prove that a code under Rule 23 was violated, but also that the violation amounted negligence, and that the violation was committed by a party to or participant in the construction project. This means that a worker who is injured by an electrical hazard created inadvertently by an overnight trespasser could not hold the owner, agent, or contractor liable under the section. Additionally, unlike the Scaffold Law, a worker who is injured due in part to his own carelessness may be found comparatively negligent, relieving the owner, agent, or contractor from liability.
New York’s labor laws are designed to ensure a safe workplace for construction workers throughout the state by placing the onus on the owners, agents, and contractors to ensure a safe worksite. However, violations of one of the many safety rules does not make an open and shut negligence case. Knowledge of the nuances in the labor law is necessary to litigate a construction accident case, and a construction accident attorney can help you navigate these nuances to get you the compensation you deserve. If you have been injured in a construction accident, contact the construction accident attorneys at Levy Konigsberg LLP today for a free case consultation.