Almost since inception, the legislature’s efforts to protect construction workers in proximity to elevation differentials have met with resistance. The current iteration of these efforts, New York Labor Law §240(1), the Labor Law’s commonly referenced “scaffold section,” has received more judicial attention than almost any other single statutory enactment. Literally thousands of motions and appeals arising from it have taxed legal minds and court dockets over the years. As with most large crowds, the sounds of this multitude are not entirely harmonious. The legislatively mandated protections for workers who might fall, and those upon whom they, or the matériel, may chance to land, are not consistently applied. This is true not just at the preliminary levels of application, but from the ground level right up to the ceiling of the Court of Appeals.
One particularly stark example of the vicissitudes of our high court’s application of this statute arises in the setting of accidents involving not just the elevation-related hazards upon which the statute is focused, but where other more commonplace construction site hazards also occupy a link or two in the chain of proximate causation.
Years of Consistency
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