In some instances, yes. Proper railings are key to preventing trips and falls, and site owners, contractors, or third-parties could be liable if their failure to use state-mandated railings causes an injury.

Standards for Safety Railings on New York Construction Sites

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 are Workers Construction a Buildingfurther instructed to comply with any rules made by the Commissioner of the Department of Labor to effect the provisions of the law.

The Department of Labor has since disseminated specific construction safety rules, including Part 23 of the New York Industrial Code. The provisions in Part 23-1.15 protect construction workers from falls and other injuries sustained by a lack of adequate safety railings. Whenever safety railings are required, they must be constructed to meet the following minimum guidelines:

  • Railings must have a horizontal wooden handrail of two inches by four inches in width, and between 36 and 42 inches high above the walking level, securely supported by two-by-four inch vertical posts at intervals of eight feet or less.
  • A horizontal midrail of one by four inches in width must be installed.
  • A toeboard of one by four inches in width must be installed, except in cases where the railing is installed at ground level or away from any opening, pit, or occupied area.
  • All handrails on safety railings must be smooth and free of protruding nails, screws, or splinters.
  • If other materials or construction methods are used for required safety railings, those assemblies must have equivalent strength and provide equivalent safety.

If you or someone you love suffered a fall or other injury on a construction site, we will work to get you and your family the compensation you are owed—and we do not collect any fees until after your case is won. Simply fill out our quick online contact form or call (800) 362-9329 to speak with a lawyer at Hofmann & Schweitzer today. 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.