Construction Accidents - Safe Place To Work Statute

Under the New York State Labor Law, employers, owners and contractors on construction sites must provide and maintain a “safe place to work” for their employees and persons lawfully on those sites. This includes the proper safety equipment, such as scaffolding, harnesses, braces, helmets, lanyards, lifelines and other equipment. Additionally, employers, contractors, construction managers and property owners must provide the necessary lighting, install handrails on stairways at the proper height, cover holes, and maintain stairways, walkways and floors in a reasonable safe condition. However, owners, general contractors and employers are not “guarantors” of safety. The standard is “reasonableness.” In order for an owner, employer or general contractor to be held liable under the safe place to work statute, the owner or contractor must have control of the site.

The statute under the Labor Law also provides that owners, contractors and employers construct, equip, arrange, operate and conduct the site so as to give reasonable and adequate protection to persons employed therein and persons “lawfully frequenting such places.” This latter section applies to essentially anyone who is on a site on which construction is being performed. Further, owners and contractors must use reasonable care to provide that the ways of getting to and from the site are reasonably safe. They must also conduct inspections to determine if there are unsafe conditions. Owners, general contractors and employers are responsible for their failure to fix unsafe conditions which they knew or “should have known” about. As to the latter section (“knew or should have known), the law mandates that owners, contractors and employers can’t claim they were unaware of dangerous conditions if a reasonable inspection of the property would have found that, for example, the walkway had a large hole; the stairways’ handrails were loose or at the wrong height, or the lighting on the site was insufficient.

If any or all of these parties fail to provide a safe place to work, they will be held liable (responsible) for any injuries suffered by a worker or employee which are caused by that failure to provide a safe place to work. If the worker or person lawfully on the site can prove that their injuries were “proximately caused” by the failure of the owner, contractor or employer to provide a safe place to work, (proximate cause means that the unsafe condition was a substantial factor in causing the person’s injuries), then the worker or person lawfully on the site is entitled to recover for all personal injuries, lost earnings and medical/hospital expenses resulting from the accident.

If you or a loved one are injured as the result of an unsafe work site, it is vital that you retain lawyers who are fully familiar with the intricacies of the Labor Law in New York State, and who have the necessary background, knowledge and experience to successfully represent you in your construction accident case from inception through conclusion of the matter, by trial, settlement or alternative dispute resolution, including arbitration or mediation.

At the Law Office of Mark A. Siesel, we have been fighting the insurance companies and their defense counsel for 27 years in the state and federal Courts in New York to assure the maximum possible compensation for our clients’ pain and suffering, past and future lost earnings and loss of earnings potential, hospital and medical expenses, and loss of enjoyment of life. Call us at (914) 428-7386 or email our office at for a free consultation to discuss your case in detail.