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Construction workers in New York are protected under both federal and state injury laws, and each one requires a different standard of safety. Fortunately, the safety regulations in the New York State Industrial Code Rules are often more strict than their federal counterparts, and negligent parties on New York City building sites can be held accountable for violations of the state law.

New York Construction Worker Rights Under Section 23

Section 23 is part of NY Labor Law 241, and specifically covers protections for workers in construction, demolition, and excavation. The code covers a wide range of construction work aspects, laying out clear standards for running a safe job site and enforceable provisions when injuries occur.

The following are the major topics covered in Section 23:

  • SUBPART 23-1 – General Provisions
  • SUBPART 23-2 – Construction Operations
  • SUBPART 23-3 – Demolition Operations
  • SUBPART 23-4 – Excavation Operations
  • SUBPART 23-5 – Scaffolding
  • SUBPART 23-6 – Material Hoisting
  • SUBPART 23-7 – Personnel Hoists
  • SUBPART 23-8 – Mobile Cranes, Tower Cranes and Derricks
  • SUBPART 23-9 – Power-Operated Equipment
  • SUBPART 23-10 – Exhaust Gases From Internal Combustion Engines
  • SUBPART 23-11 – Use of Explosives

Section 23 begins by addressing general hazards on a construction site, including:

  • Falling objects. If any person is required to work or pass through a place that is normally exposed to falling materials, suitable overhead protection must be installed. Such protection may consist of tightly laid planks with at least two-inch thickness (or another material of equivalent strength) and have a supporting structure that can withstand a load of 100 pounds per square foot.
  • Hazardous openings. Any opening in a floor or temporary structure into which a person may step or fall must have a strong, fastened cover or be guarded by a safety railing. If workers must access the opening for ongoing work, a safety barrier with a strong gate may be used as long as the gate swings outward from the opening and is kept latched except for entry and exit.
  • Slip hazards. Employers shall not permit any employee to walk on or access any floor, walkway, scaffold, passage, or platform that is in a slippery condition. Employers have a duty to remove or nullify any substance that causes slippery footing, such as water, ice, snow, and grease.
  • Trip or cutting hazards. Floors, platforms, and passageways where workers are present must be kept free from dirt, debris, tools, materials, and any objects not in active use. Work areas must also be free from any other obstructions or conditions (such as electrical cords) which could cause tripping, and all sharp projections that could cause cut or puncture injuries must be removed or covered.
  • Vertical passage. Stairways, ramps, or runways shall be used to access levels for above or underground construction work unless ground conditions or the nature of the work prevents their installation. If stairs and ramps cannot be used, ladders or other safe means of access shall be provided.
  • Air quality and supply. Employers should ensure that employees are not exposed to contaminated or oxygen-deficient work areas. This includes a duty to test for dangerous contaminants of any unventilated confined area, including sewers, tanks, pits, chimneys, or any place where airflow is stagnant. Employers shall also test confined areas for sufficient oxygen to support life before any person is permitted to work in the area.
  • Privacy and personal needs. Employers and site owners have a duty to ensure workers have access to a supply of clean, pure, and cool drinking water for the duration of the work. In addition, toilet facilities on the site shall be provided in a sufficient number to accommodate all employees. Finally, if work requires more than three employees to change their clothes on the job site, adequate sheltered structures with proper ventilation and illumination shall be provided.

Let Our Attorneys Determine Who Is Responsible for Your Construction Accident

If you are suffering after an accident, it is vital that you contact our construction injury lawyers as soon as possible. We can investigate your claim and work to get you 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, 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.