Expecting an employee to construct a proper scaffold from materials and tools available at a worksite violates state labor law, according to a New York state court.
Employee Noel Collins was injured due to a fall while installing ceiling tile in a movie theater owned by West 13th Street Owners Corp. He sued, claiming he wasn’t provided with an appropriate safety device, in this case a scaffold.
Collins had constructed a makeshift scaffold consisting of one piece of plywood on top of an A-frame ladder with the other end of the plywood resting on a wall that was the same height as the ladder.
The company argued that Collins was the sole cause of his injuries because he didn’t use materials on hand to construct a proper scaffold.
But the court said expecting the employee to build his own scaffold from scratch “improperly shifted the responsibility for creating a proper safety device” from the employer to the employee.
Now a jury will decide on damages.
Cite: Collins v. West 13th Street Owners Corp., Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Dept., NY, 6/30/09.