The owner of a work site and the general contractor working at that site have the legal duty to provide a safe place to work.
This is stated under Labor Law sections 200 (1) and 241 (6). Under both sections of the Labor Law, the injured worker must prove negligence of the owner, contractor, or agent.
The defendants will strive to demonstrate that the worker’s comparative negligence actually caused or contributed to the accident.
Both Labor Law sections impose a significant burden of proof on the injured worker. The fact that the accident occurred is insufficient to create liability. In comparison, the “Scaffold Law”, Labor Law 240 (1), imposes unconditional liability against the owner and general contractor. In a “Scaffold Law” case, the workers’ own contributory negligence will not constitute a defense, in most cases.
Section 200 (1) imposes a broad duty on the owner and general contractor to provide a safe place to work.
Section 241 (6) imposes a duty to provide a safe workplace which is not in violation of the provisions of the Industrial Code. In other words, in order to prove that an unsafe place to work exists, a specific violation of the Industrial Code must be demonstrated.
Often, where the worker has been injured from a fall from an elevation device (such as a ladder or scaffold), we claim violations under all three statutes, i.e., Labor Law sections 200 (1), 240 (1), and 241 (6).