Construction Worker on a ScaffoldFalls are a persistent problem on construction sites, causing devastating and fatal injuries for workers every year. In addition to New York’s dedicated Scaffold Law, the New York Industrial Code has specific provisions to protect construction workers from harm while working on scaffolds. If a breach of these regulations causes an accident, injured workers may file claims against contractors, site owners, and other negligent parties.

Protection During Hand Demolition Under the NY Industrial Code

NY Labor Law 241 requires owners and contractors to make construction sites as safe as possible for workers. Under Section 241(6), owners and contractors must comply with any rules made by the Commissioner of the Department of Labor to carry out the provisions of the law.

The Department of Labor has created specific construction safety rules in Part 23 of the New York Industrial Code to protect people employed in construction, demolition, or excavation work. N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 12 § 23-5.1 has specific requirements for scaffolds used in construction and demolition.

Requirements for Scaffolds Used in Construction or Demolition Operations

  • Footings or anchorage. The footing or anchorage for every scaffold resting on the ground or surface must be sound, rigid, secured against movement, and capable of supporting the maximum intended load without settling or deformation. Barrels, boxes, bricks, loose stones or gravel, or other unstable supports must not be used.
  • Structure. All scaffolding must be constructed to bear four times the maximum weight of its intended loads, including both dead and live loads. Scaffolds must be provided with adequate horizontal and diagonal bracing to prevent any lateral movement.
  • Loading. No scaffold may be loaded in excess of the maximum load for which it is intended. Light-duty scaffolds have a maximum live load of 25 pounds per square foot, medium-duty scaffolds have a maximum live load of 50 pounds per square foot, and heavy-duty scaffolds have a maximum live load of 75 pounds per square foot.
  • Planking. Scaffold planks must extend at least six inches beyond any support and not more than 18 inches beyond any end support. These planks shall be laid tight and securely fastened in place. The minimum width of every planked scaffold platform shall be 18 inches, except for bench-type scaffolds with working platforms less than 24 inches above the supporting surface. Trestle and extension trestle ladder scaffold platforms must be at least 12 inches in width.
  • Maintenance and repair. All scaffolds must be maintained in good repair. Any defect, unsafe condition, or non-compliance with these regulations must be immediately corrected before further use of such scaffold. In addition, all scaffolds must be erected and removed under the supervision of a designated person.
  • Lumber. Any lumber used in the construction of scaffolds and scaffold platforms shall be stress-grade, with a minimum unit stress "f" of 1500 psi. The use of scaffold lumber must conform with its grade classification (for example, lumber graded for use as posts or columns must not be used for beams or joists). All lumber subjected to stress shall be sound, straight-grained, free from shakes and large knots, and free from any other defects that could impair its strength or durability.
  • Overhead protection. Overhead protection, when required for scaffolds, must consist of planks at least two inches thick full size, exterior grade plywood not less than three-quarters of an inch thick, or material of equivalent strength. Planks used for overhead protection must be laid tight and extend the full length and width of the working platform. Overhead protection must not be used to support persons, materials, tools, or equipment, and must be located less than 10 feet above the surface of the working platform.
  • Safety railings. The open sides of all scaffold platforms must be provided with safety railings, with the exception of platforms on needle beam scaffolds, ladder jack scaffolds, trestle or extension trestle ladder scaffolds, rivet heater platforms used by ironworkers, and platforms less than seven feet off the ground.
  • Screens. Any scaffold under which a person is likely to work or pass must be provided with a wire mesh screen of at least No. 18 U.S. gauge steel with openings that will reject a one-inch diameter ball.
  • Splices. No scaffold may be spliced between points of support on its horizontal load-bearing members.

Let Us Advise You After a Construction Site Scaffold Accident

If you or someone you love was hurt due to a faulty scaffold, the New York construction injury attorneys at Hofmann & Schweitzer could help you get the compensation you need for your medical bills and lost income. Contact us today at (800) 362-9329 to discuss your next steps or learn more about your rights in our FREE guide, Hurt in a Construction Accident? You’re Not Alone.


Timothy F. Schweitzer
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Personal injury lawyer specializing in maritime, construction and railroad injury claims.
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