construction workers on scaffolding

Construction Site Accident Lawyers Guide Workers Hurt in Scaffolding Accidents

Scaffolding is a vital component of many construction sites, providing a temporary support structure for workers to access heights and perform their tasks efficiently. If you're injured in a construction site scaffolding accident, find out how our New York and New Jersey construction site accident lawyers at Hofmann & Schweitzer can help you protect your legal rights and possible compensation.

What Is Scaffolding and Why Is it Used?

Scaffolding is a temporary framework consisting of platforms, braces, and supports erected to support workers and materials during the construction, maintenance, or repair of buildings and other structures. It serves several crucial purposes, including:

  • Accessibility. Scaffolding provides safe access to elevated areas, permitting workers to perform tasks at various heights, including painting, welding, and bricklaying.
  • Safety measures. By offering stable platforms and guardrails, scaffolding helps prevent falls and provides a secure working environment.
  • Increase productivity. Scaffolding enables multiple workers to work simultaneously at different levels, thereby increasing productivity on construction sites.

Common Reasons Why Scaffold Accidents Happen

Despite its importance and the rules regarding scaffolding on a construction site, scaffolding can become a source of accidents if not managed correctly. Some common reasons behind scaffold accidents include:

  • Poor installation. Improper assembly or installation of scaffolding components can weaken its structure, leading to collapses or instability.
  • Lack of training. Inadequate training on how to safely erect, dismantle, and use scaffolding can increase the likelihood of accidents.
  • Failure to use personal protective equipment (PPE). Workers who fail to wear appropriate PPE, such as harnesses or hard hats, are at risk of injury when working on scaffolding.
  • Adverse weather conditions. Wind, rain, or snow can compromise the stability of scaffolding, leading to accidents.
  • Overloading. Exceeding the maximum weight capacity of scaffolding with heavy equipment or materials can cause it to buckle or collapse.
  • Neglecting inspections. Failure to regularly inspect scaffolding for damage or wear and tear can result in unnoticed hazards that may lead to accidents.

Addressing these factors through proper training, regular inspections, and adherence to safety protocols is essential in preventing scaffold accidents on construction sites.

New York Scaffolding Safety Regulations

New York Industrial Code Subpart 23-5 applies to scaffolding used in New York construction and demolition projects. Subpart 23-5 has 22 sections. The first section provides general safety requirements for all types of scaffolding. After that, the subsequent sections provide specific safety requirements for different types of scaffolding, including:

  • Metal scaffolds
  • Tubular welded frame scaffolds
  • Tube and coupler metal scaffolds
  • Pole scaffolds
  • Outrigger scaffolds
  • All suspended scaffolds
  • Two-point suspension scaffolds
  • Multiple-point suspension scaffolds
  • Needle beam scaffolds
  • Horse scaffolds
  • Carpenters’ portable bracket scaffolds
  • Bricklayers’ square scaffolds
  • Lean-to scaffolds
  • Trestle and extension trestle ladder scaffolds
  • Ladder jack scaffolds
  • Manually-propelled mobile scaffolds
  • Elevator scaffold jacks
  • Window jacks
  • Boatswain’s chairs
  • Stilts

Property owners and construction contractors must comply with all applicable New York Industrial Code sections to protect construction workers from accident injuries.

New York Scaffold Law

Additionally, New York Labor Law 240 is a strict liability statute that holds property owners and contractors liable for worker injuries on scaffolding.


1.         All contractors and owners and their agents, except owners of one and two family dwellings who contract for but do not direct or control the work, in the erection, demolition, repairing, altering, painting, cleaning or pointing of a building or structure shall furnish or erect, or cause to be furnished or erected for the performance of such labor, scaffolding, hoists, stays, ladders, slings, hangers, blocks, pulleys, braces, irons, ropes and other devices which shall be so constructed, placed and operated as to give proper protection to a person so employed.

This statute applies when the work performed by the worker is shown to involve hazards which arose from the fact that the work site is elevated above where materials are hoisted and secured or below where materials are hoisted and/or secured. (Ross v. Curtis-Palmer Hydro-Electric Co., 81 N.Y.2d 494, 500-501, 601 N.Y.S.2d 49, 52 (1993))

The obligation under § 240(1) is non-delegable, and it applies to both owners and contractors. (Ross, 81 N.Y.2d at 501-502, 601 N.Y.S.2d at 49, 53).  The injured worker need not show actual supervision or control on behalf of the owners and contractors, they still will be strictly liable for a violation of the statute. Id.

"Labor Law § 240(1) was designed to prevent those types of accidents in which the scaffold, hoist, stay, ladder or other protective device proved inadequate to shield the injured worker from harm directly flowing from the application of the force of gravity to an object or person." Id. (emphasis in original). The hazard to be protected against is the potential for a gravity-related accident of falling from a height, or being struck by a falling object that was improperly hoisted or secured. Id.

The safety devices that are required to be provided are those that include traditional types of equipment designed to reduce the hazard posed to a plaintiff from a work site subject to an elevation related risk.  Scaffolds are one type of such equipment. (Ross, 81 N.Y.2d at 500-501, 601 N.Y.S.2d at 52). 

What to Do if You're Injured in a Scaffold Accident

If you find yourself injured in a scaffold accident on a construction site, it's crucial to take the following steps to ensure your well-being and protect your rights:

  • Seek medical attention. Your health and safety should be your top priority. Seek prompt medical assistance, even if your injuries seem minor.
  • Report the accident. Inform your supervisor or site manager about the incident as soon as possible. They should document the accident and ensure that appropriate safety measures are taken to prevent a similar incident from happening in the future.
  • Document the accident scene. Take photographs of the accident scene, including the scaffolding involved and any visible hazards or defects. Additionally, ask witnesses who may provide statements regarding the accident for their contact information. 
  • Keep detailed records. Keeping copies of any medical reports, treatment expenses, and records of days missed from work due to the injury is essential.
  • Consult a construction accident lawyer. Seeking legal guidance from an experienced construction accident lawyer is crucial. Your lawyer can evaluate your case, identify potentially liable parties, and help you pursue compensation for your injuries.

How a Construction Accident Lawyer Can Help You Pursue Compensation

Construction accidents involving scaffolding can result in serious injuries, such as broken bones, neck and spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and, in some cases, fatalities. If you or a loved one are injured in an accident, a construction accident lawyer can assist you in various ways:

  • Provide legal representation. An attorney skilled in construction accident law will fight for your rights. In addition, a construction site lawyer can help you avoid costly mistakes that could affect the amount of your settlement.
  • Investigate the accident. A construction site accident lawyer will investigate the circumstances surrounding the scaffolding accident, gather evidence, interview witnesses, and identify liable parties.
  • Calculate damages. Your lawyer will calculate the total damages you are entitled to receive. You could recover compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, rehabilitation costs, and pain and suffering.
  • Negotiate settlements. Your attorney will negotiate with the insurance company to try to obtain a fair settlement that compensates you for your injuries and losses.
  • Represent your interests in court. If a fair settlement cannot be reached with the insurance company, your construction site accident lawyer will be prepared to take your case to trial to pursue maximum compensation.
Timothy F. Schweitzer
Connect with me
Personal injury lawyer specializing in maritime, construction and railroad injury claims.
Comments are closed.