Labor Law Section 240(1) - Protection for Workers at Elevated Work Sites

Labor Law section 240(1) requires that owners and contractors provide appropriate safety devices to provide proper protection for workers at elevated work sites. Generally, in order to establish a prima facie cause of action, a claimant must show that the statute was violated and that the violation was a proximate cause of claimant's injuries (Herrnsdorf v. Bernard Janowitz Constr. Corp., 67 A.D.3d 640, 889 N.Y.S.2d 600 [2009]). Although liability under the statute is often described as "strict" or "absolute" -- in the sense that owners or contractors not actually involved in the work can be held liable and that any alleged comparative fault on the part of the injured worker is irrelevant -- "causation must also be established" (Blake v. Neighborhood Hous. Servs. of NY City, 1 NY3d 280, 289, 803 N.E.2d 757, 771 N.Y.S.2d 484 [2003]). "Even when a worker is not recalcitrant,' . . . there can be no liability under section 240(1) when there is no violation and the worker's actions . . . are the sole proximate cause' of the accident" (id., 290).