Falls and struck-by injuries are some of the most common causes of serious injuries and deaths on NY construction sites. Employees who are passing under a structure may be hit by falling debris, while others may fall through inadequate temporary barriers. When this happens, employers and site owners could be held liable for a worker’s medical bills, disability payments, rehabilitation costs, and lost income.

Section 23 Rules for Sidewalk Sheds and Barricades

Sidwwalk Closed Fences and SignsNY Labor Law 241 requires owners and contractors to make construction sites as safe as possible for workers. Under Section 241(6), owners and contractors have a duty to 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 since created specific construction safety rules, such as Part 23 of the New York Industrial Code. Part 23-1.18 outlines the proper uses of sidewalk sheds and barricades.

Regulations for Sidewalk Sheds

Sidewalk sheds on sidewalks or thoroughfares:

  • Must be used if the structure being built is more than 40 feet in height above and alongside such sidewalk.
  • Must be used if the structure is over 25 feet high and is to be demolished, and the distance from the sidewalk or thoroughfare to the nearest point of the building or is half (or less) of the height of the building.
  • Must be used in construction or demolition operations where materials or debris will be transported over the sidewalk, regardless of the height of the building or other structure being constructed or demolished.
  • Must be constructed to bear a live load of at least 150 pounds per square foot on the deck and supporting structure without breaking. If material is to be stored on the shed, the deck and supporting structure must be able to bear a live load of at least 300 pounds per square foot without breaking. Sheds may be made of wood, metal, or other materials of equivalent strength and suitability.
  • Must have a vertical clearance of at least seven and one-half feet above the walkway surface, and be at least five feet wide. The width must be reasonably wide enough to allow any pedestrians to travel unimpeded at all times.
  • Must have a substantial enclosure at least 42 inches high around the outside edge and the ends of the deck. The enclosure may be made of boards at least one inch thick laid close, screening formed of at least No. 16 U.S. gage steel wire mesh with openings which reject a one and one-half inch diameter ball, corrugated metal sheets of not at least No. 22 U.S. gage, or exterior grade plywood at least one-half inch thick.
  • Must have a deck made of planks at least two inches thick full size laid tight. The side of the shed toward the building must be solidly fenced with a barricade for its full height unless the deck is constructed solidly against the face of the building and no material, debris, or other objects can fall on the walkway surface. Solid sliding or swinging gates or doors may be installed to allow the movement of workers and materials.
  • Must be illuminated with an intensity of at least five-foot candles at the walkway level to ensure the safe movement of pedestrians and workers.

Regulations for Barricades

If a sidewalk shed is not required by regulations, there must be a substantial barricade to prevent unauthorized persons from entering the construction or demolition site. These barricades must be:

  • A fence or equivalent barrier at least six feet in height.
  • Have a solid construction for its entire height and length, except for such openings provided with solid doors to allow workers to pass through and perform tasks.
  • Used unless the height of the building is less than 25 feet above the ground, or where the distance from the sidewalk to the nearest point of the building is more than one-half of the height of the building. In these cases, a substantial safety railing constructed in compliance with Part 23 may be installed at the inside edge at the sidewalk or pedestrian thoroughfare in lieu of a solid barricade.

Let Us Advise You After a Construction Accident

If you or someone you love was hurt on a New York construction site, we will do everything we can to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact 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.