Liability – NY contractors

New York property owners and tenants may be liable for contractor injuries

If you own or lease property in the State of New York, you have a level of liability for worksite safety that could take you by surprise.

New York Labor Law Section 240 holds you legally liable for injuries sustained by contract workers who fall from heights or are hit by falling objects on your premises while they are erecting, demolishing, repairing, altering, painting, cleaning or pointing a building or structure and using scaffolding, hoists, stays, ladders, slings, hangers, blocks, pulleys, braces, irons, ropes or other devices.

YOU may be liable for a worker’s injury, even though you or your employees don’t perform the work, control the worker or direct the methods used. The contract worker doesn’t share liability even if he or she is negligent … such as failing to use provided safety gear, working while intoxicated or ignoring safety precautions.

What should a building owner or tenant do when hiring a contractor in these situations?

  1. Contact your insurance agent or broker to review your General Liability policy and limits. Be aware that judgements under this New York law have exceeded normal policy limits.
  2. Work with a qualified attorney to create a written contract that indemnifies your business.
  3. Assure that your business is named as a “primary” and “non-contributory” Additional Insured on the contractor’s General Liability policy.
  4. Hire a reputable contractor and conduct your due diligence by getting recommendations from the contractor’s previous customers, reviewing the contractor’s financial condition, evaluating the contractor’s past losses, and requiring documentation that the contractor has appropriate insurance coverage, including workers compensation insurance for all workers who will be on your worksite.
  5. Require the contractor to follow all work-related requirements from OSHA and New York State.

Following these steps can mitigate the impact of a lawsuit filed against you under the New York Labor Law. The staff at Berkley Asset Protection, along with your agent or broker, can assist you in selecting the right insurance program and provide guidance to protect your business’s financial position when hiring a contractor.

Be proactive! Develop a plan, and execute!
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