Construction Worker Wearing a HarnessFalls are one of the deadliest and most common construction injuries on New York City building sites. In order to provide better protection for workers, New York Law sets strict guidelines for the use of lifelines and safety belts for employees performing work at height.

Requirements for Safety Belts, Harnesses, and Lifelines Under Section 23

NY Labor Law 241, and in particular, Section 241(6), requires owners and contractors at construction sites to provide safety to construction workers.  Section 241(6) states that the Commissioner of the Department of Labor “may make rules to carry into effect the provisions of this subdivision” and owners and contractors “shall comply” therewith. In so doing, the Department of Labor promulgated numerous construction safety rules, in particular, Part 23 of the New York Industrial Code. Regarding fall protection, an employer, contractor, or third party could be liable for an injury caused by violations of provisions in Part 23, specifically Section 23-1.16, including:”

  • Using unapproved equipment. Safety belts, harnesses, and all special devices that will be attached to hanging lifelines must be approved for use in the type of work being performed.
  • Defective attachments. All safety belts and harnesses shall be properly attached to a securely anchored tail line or hanging lifeline. These attachments must be arranged so that a worker could not fall more than five feet.
  • Failure to train. All employees required to use safety belts and harnesses must be instructed in the proper method of wearing, using, and attaching the devices prior to use. Employers should also ensure workers comply with safety requirements during work that requires belts or harnesses.
  • Weak or trailing tail lines. Tail lines must be made of approved materials (such as manila or synthetic fiber) and have a breaking strength of at least 4,000 pounds. Tail lines should be kept at the minimum length required in order to perform work, but should never be longer than four feet.
  • Inadequate lifelines. Lifelines are required to have a breaking strength of at least 4,000 pounds and must be securely attached to a sufficient anchoring point. Any hanging lifeline must also be protected by padding in any place it makes contact with building edges, protrusions, or objects that could cut or weaken the lifeline.
  • Using defective safety devices. All safety belts, harnesses, and lifelines must be inspected by a competent person before each use. If the equipment shows any indication of damage (such as mildew, tears, excessive wear, or deterioration), the unsafe equipment must be removed from the job site.

The Help You Need After a Construction Accident

If you suffered a fall while working on a construction site, the New York construction injury attorneys at Hofmann & Schweitzer can help you get proper compensation. Contact us today or learn more about your rights in our FREE brochure, 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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