Window washing has inherent dangers as a profession. Should you be the victim of a window washer accident in New York City, it is important that you understand your rights. If you are injured while cleaning the windows or exterior surfaces of a building, you may be able to sue the owner, lessee, manager, and general contractor of the building even if they were not negligent. This is because New York’s Labor Law Section 202 requires the owner, lessee, agent and manager of every public building and every contractor to provide safe means for the cleaning of the windows and of exterior surfaces of such building. §202 also prohibits them from requiring, permitting, suffering, or allowing any window or exterior surface of such building to be cleaned, unless means are provided to enable such work to be done in a safe manner for the prevention of accidents.
Workers should note that the statute also imposes obligations upon them to use the safety devices provided. Employers and contractors must require their employees, while engaged in cleaning any window or exterior surface of a public building, to use the provided equipment and safety devices. The statute’s importance for the safety of laborers comes from the fact that it holds owners, lessees, agents, managers, and contractors liable even if that party itself was not negligent. This can be very useful to an injured worker who cannot sue his employer because he is receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits. This worker can bring a case against the owner, lessee, agent, manager, and contractor in addition to his Workers’ Compensation claim.
Understanding Window Washer Accident Liability
In order to impose liability, the injured party must establish that there was a violation of a standard of New York’s Industrial Code, which provides special regulations to protect persons employed in construction, demolition, and excavation operations. Specific hazards and dangers recognized by the Industrial Code include the hazards of falling and of falling objects and materials; the hazards associated with the operation of vehicles, machinery and equipment; the hazards of fire, explosion and electricity; the hazards incidental to the handling and movement of heavy materials; and the hazards of exposure to the elements and air contaminants.
Many lawsuits for injured window washers also allege a violation of Labor Law §240(1), New York’s Scaffold Law, because of the elevation relation risk involved. The Scaffold Law imposes absolute liability, meaning that the building owner or general contractor cannot avoid liability even if the worker was also negligent. Labor Law §202 does not impose absolute liability. The provisions of this section do not apply to:
- Multiple dwellings six stories or less in height located anywhere in this state
- Any building three stories or less in height in cities, towns or villages having a population of less than forty thousand
- Windows or exterior surfaces of any building which may be exempted under any rule adopted by the board of standards and appeals.
Learn More about Window Washer Accident Cases
The law is on your side if you have been the victim of a window washer accident in New York City. New York’s Labor Law Section 202 provides specific protection for persons engaged in the cleaning of windows and the outside surfaces of buildings. Contact the personal injury lawyers at Levine & Slavit, PLLC to learn how the law protects you.