Every job comes with its inherent dangers and employers are supposed to mitigate these potential pitfalls by providing well-maintained equipment, offering safety training and constantly monitoring the workplace for potential hazards. When an injury does occur, workers should receive workers’ compensation to take care of medical expenses and lost wages.
Any New York business that employs people has a moral and legal obligation to create a safe working environment for its workers. When workplace injuries do occur, they have a duty to make sure that their employees feel comfortable reporting them to their superiors without fear of retaliation.
A 23-year-old man died in a fall from the roof of a building that was under construction. The construction worker fell from a roof following a large gust of wind, despite wearing a safety harness. The man died from the 24-foot fall within hours of the accidents occurrence. Construction site falls are one of a multitude of accidents that can generate workers' compensation claims in New York and other states.
When the economic downturn came, some businesses closed while others made big changes in order to stay open. The job losses flooded the market with the unemployed and underemployed, some of whom began picking up work as independent contractors. In the trucking industry, for example, some truckers left behind working as employees in order to become independent owner/operators.
When workers are hurt on the job, it seems an obvious answer, if the employer were at fault, the employer should be held liable. Injured workers may be able to collect workers' compensation and hold the employer accountable. But what if an employer who ignores safety rules is only penalized as much as the employer who follows them? What if there was no additional liability for not following the rules and for not creating a safe work environment? This potential inconsistency is the issue being raised by recent calls for reform to the current Scaffold Law, more formally known as Local Law 240.