When is a fire escape not a fire escape? When it’s a scaffold, according to a New York Court.
Leonidas Gomez was performing demolition work on a building in New York City.
The building was already partially demolished, and he had to remove a window from the remaining structure.
The only way for him to do that was to stand on a fire escape.
While he was trying to remove the window, the fire escape detached from the building, and Gomez fell to the ground.
The worker sued for his injuries, claiming that the fire escape should be considered a scaffold under New York law.
The court agreed. It said the fact that a fire escape is usually a permanent structure and a scaffold is a temporary one didn’t matter in this case.
Since a scaffold couldn’t be erected on the partially demolished building, the fire escape acted as a scaffold and the law applied.
New York’s unique scaffold law requires building owners and general contractors to provide workers with proper scaffolds, hoists, harnesses and other appropriate PPE for use when working at elevations.
Cite: Gomez v. City of New York et al, New York Supreme Court, 6/11/09.