Commonly known as the "Scaffold Law," New York Labor Law 240(1) offers financial protection to construction workers who have suffered elevation-related injuries. The labor law places absolute liability-meaning that liability is imposed regardless of fault–on the property owner and general contractor when a worker suffers an injury due to a fall from elevation or is struck by a falling object. By placing absolute liability on general contractors and property owners, the labor law essentially provides construction workers compensation for damages for most elevation-related injuries.
Questions often arise in fact-specific cases as to whether a worker or an action is protected under the Labor Law. The Appellate Division, First Department, dealt with this issue in the case Grant v. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, et al.:
"Plaintiff was injured when a crate of glass that he was preparing for offloading from the back of a flatbed truck for window installation at Museum tipped over onto him, knocking him to the ground. Contrary to defendants’ contention, preparing a six-foot-tall crate weighing at least 1,500 pounds for hoisting posed an elevation-related risk for plaintiff within the meaning of Labor Law § 240(1) (see Marrero v 2075 Holding Co. LLC, 106 AD3d 408 [1st Dept 2013]), and the crate was “an object that required securing for the purposes of the undertaking” (Outar v City of New York , 5 NY3d 731, 732 ).
Further, there is unrebutted evidence that various devices, including wooden blocks for bracing, would have stabilized the crate while it was being maneuvered into a position to have slings placed on it for hoisting by the crane. Since plaintiff was never provided with proper safety devices, his use of the Johnson bar, or J-bar, to move the crate into position was not the sole proximate cause of the accident (DeRose v Bloomingdale’s Inc., 120 AD3d 41, 45 [1st Dept 2014])."