Construction Worker Wearing Boatswain's Chair GearHanging seats (known as boatswain's chairs) can be deadly if not used according to safety guidelines, while malfunctioning stilts can cause career-ending falls. Our New York construction injury lawyers explain state regulations to protect workers from injuries in boatswain's chairs and stilts and how violations affect your claim for compensation.

Provisions Under the NY Industrial Code for Bosun (Boatswain's Chairs) and Stilts

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 must comply with any rules made by the Commissioner of the Department of Labor to carry out the provisions of the law.

Guidelines for Boatswain's Chairs

The Department of Labor has created specific construction safety rules in Part 23 of the New York Industrial Code to protect people employed in construction, demolition, or excavation work. N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. Tit. 12 § 23-5.21 and 5.22 set forth the following:


All boatswain's chair seats must be suspended from their four corners by rope slings, and chairs and supports must be capable of supporting four times the maximum intended weight of use. Seats must be at least 24 inches in length by 10 inches in width and be reinforced across their entire width using cleats securely fastened to the underside of each end. Chairs and seats must be at least two inches in thickness unless constructed of hardwood, in which case a seat may be one and one-eighth inches.


Powered boatswain's chairs and any harnesses designed to suspend a person in a sitting position to perform work of any kind must be approved before use.

Suspension tackle

All rope used as a means of suspension for boatswain's chairs must be first-grade manila at least five-eighths inch in diameter or made of synthetic fiber with a diameter of at least one-half inch and a breaking strength of 5,000 pounds. Rope shall be reeved through proper size ball bearings or bushed blocks and attached using thimbles and splicing. Only safety hooks may be used.


The means of suspension must be attached to anchorage points of sufficient rigidity and strength. Ropes must be protected against chafing or unraveling where necessary.

Seat guard or safety belt

All boatswain's chairs or seats must either be provided with a rope or strap guard across the front and rear 18 inches above the seat or be equipped with a compliant safety belt with a separate hanging lifeline securely attached to compliant fixed support or anchorage.

Guidelines for Stilts

  • Limited use. Stilts may only be used in limited applications involving taping joints in the drywall during wall and ceiling construction. No employer may direct, request, demand, imply, or otherwise compel an employee to use stilts for taping drywall or any other purpose. Stilts must be used only by competent persons qualified to perform taping work and who have voluntarily agreed to their use.
  • Stilt construction. Stilts must be of sound and substantial construction and must be maintained and free of defects at all times.
  • Stilt elevation. Stilts may not elevate the feet of any person higher than 24 inches above the ground or floor.
  • Notification of the commissioner. If stilts are to be used, employers must notify the commissioner in writing of the intended use at least five days before any drywall taping involving stilts. This notification must include the name and address of the person agreeing to use the stilts, the job site location where the stilts are to be used, and the date when stilt use will begin.
  • Scaffolds required. Compliant scaffolds commonly used and appropriate for wallboard construction must be provided whenever stilts are used. Scaffolds must be readily available for any person performing drywall installation who may choose to use them.
  • Protection from hazards. Stilts may only be used on even floor surfaces that are free from materials, obstructions, debris, or slippery substances. Persons on stilts may not work near any opening which is not covered, protected, or otherwise guarded.

Compensation for New York City Construction Workers Hurt in a Fall

The dangerous nature of construction work has resulted in the creation of several New York statutes providing compensation options to injured workers. If you or someone you love was seriously hurt on a construction site, the attorneys at Hofmann & Schweitzer could advise you on your options at no cost.

Contact us today at (800) 362-9329 to begin building your injury case or learn more about your rights in our FREE guide, 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.