Earlier this year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Navillus Contracting Tile, Inc., for serious, repeated worksite safety regulations. The citation came after one of the company's employees fell from a scaffolding structure last fall.
OSHA Cites for Safety Hazards
In September 2011, an employee of Navillus Contracting Tile, Inc. fell 80 feet from the top of a 118-foot-high scaffolding structure onto a lower level. Miraculously, the employee survived.
However, OSHA, the federal agency responsible for setting up and enforcing healthful working conditions for employees, cited Navillus with six serious safety violations and one repeated violation after investigations uncovered several safety hazards, including missing guardrails, an incomplete plank system, a metal platform not secured to the structure, and inadequate anchors for individuals working on structures.
Now, the company faces $36,000 in fines for the six violations and $38,500 for repeatedly failing to provide guardrails on its scaffolding systems.
New York Scaffolding Law and Liability
The state of New York also holds employers, contractors and owners responsible for workplace safety violations. Under New York Law, these individuals are absolutely liable for worker injuries and deaths that occur as a result of falls or other incidents on scaffolding 18 inches or higher. Employers are liable even when worker behavior contributed to the incident. Under the law, employers must provide adequate safety equipment to protect workers on scaffolding, including ladders, slings, pulleys and other devices.
Unfortunately, the 127-year-old law has come under fire from lawmakers who believe its absolute liability provisions are too stringent and unjustly punish employers. One lawmaker has even introduced a bill reforming the law. However, if scaffolding laws were to be weakened, some say, injured workers would be unable to hold their employers accountable for unsafe working conditions.
It remains to be seen whether New York's scaffolding laws are set to change. For now, anyone injured in a scaffolding accident while on the job in New York has legal remedies. Contacting an experienced personal injury attorney is advised.