Scaffold Accidents

Each year numerous scaffold accidents take place in New York involving construction workers resulting in injury or death. The scaffold accident lawyers at DeToffol & Gittleman have years of experience representing construction workers who have suffered injury or death in New York scaffold accidents.

The following are some of the types of scaffolds used at construction sites:


Steel scaffolds are more durable than wood structures. Steel scaffolding must be erected and used in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Proper seating and locking of all scaffold connections is mandatory.

Firm footing must be provided for each upright; a metal plate is most satisfactory and may be provided with scaffolding. It is necessary to supplement this plate with planking or other support in loose material; minimum thickness of lumber recommended is two inches. Scaffold footings should be secured against movement by recessing, staking, or other means.

All uprights must be plumb. For a scaffold less than 75 feet high, a minimum outside diameter of 2 inches is recommended for tubing. For scaffolds above this height, the uprights should be in accordance with manufacturer recommendations.

Toe boards are normally nailed to uprights when erecting a wood pole scaffold. Because tubular scaffold uprights are metal, toe boards must be nailed to platform planks or fastened to uprights with bolts or other appropriate connections.

Guard rails must be secured to uprights by connectors designed for this use. Guard rails for tubular scaffolds should have tubing with a minimum outside diameter of 1-1/2 inches.

The most frequent misuse of tubular scaffolds is the failure to use toe boards and guard rails.

Tubular scaffold uprights are usually smaller in diameter than timber posts for the same size scaffold. It is important that: (1) uprights be erected and maintained in vertical (plumb) position, and (2) diagonal bracing be provided.

Exterior scaffolds should be tied or anchored to the building at a height of 3 times the narrowest width and every two sections thereafter as a minimum. As work progresses upward and platforms are removed, it is important that all ledgers be left in place to provide rigidity.


Workmen must not ride rolling scaffolds or attempt to move rolling scaffolds by pulling on overhead pipes or structures. All material and equipment should be removed from the scaffold platform or secured before moving the scaffold. Caster brakes or wheel locks should be applied at all times when a scaffold is not being moved.


All lumber used in constructing ramps, platforms, and scaffolding, should be of good quality, seasoned, and straight-grained, free of large loose or dead knots, knots in groups, checks, splits, and other defects which decrease the structural strength.

All nails should be driven home. No nail should be subjected to direct pull. A minimum of four nails per joint should be used. The size of the nail used depends upon the load that must be carried by the joint and the thickness of the material being jointed: one-inch stock requiring 8d nails, two-inch stock requiring 16d nails, etc..

Each scaffold should be designed for the loads which will be done in the performance of the work. All loads, including workmen, building materials, and the weight of the scaffold structure itself must be taken into account. Adequate footings, such as planks, should be provided for up rights, especially when they rest on earth, sand, or loose material. Cross-bracing to provide stability for the scaffold must be provided.

Permanent ladders or stairs should be provided. If a ladder is used, it should be secured against slipping and overturning.

Over head protection must be provided for workers on the scaffold if work is being performed overhead. A roof of lumber, heavy canvas, or screen wire can be used.

Handrails and guardrails should be provided on all open sides of scaffold platforms. Toe boards should be installed on all open sides of scaffold platforms.


Pole scaffolds have been classified as “light trades” and “heavy trades”. The former includes carpenters, painters, and other trades which will not bring heavy material loads on the scaffold platform. The “heavy trades” include bricklayers, stonemasons, concrete workers, and steel workers.

Single pole scaffolds differ from independent scaffolds in that only one side is supported by uprights, one end of each ledger being carried by the building under construction itself.

Single pole scaffolds should be cross-braced in both directions, along the face of the building and at right angles to the building face at every third or fourth upright.


The following general rules are prescribed for maintaining all types of scaffolds in safe condition:

  • All scaffold structures should be inspected at least daily by the project manager, project engineer, or other responsible person designated by the job superintendent.
  • No change of any kind should be made to a scaffold without approval.
  • The scaffold should be cleared of all debris daily. No tools should be left on a scaffold overnight.
  • No excess materials should be stockpiled on a scaffold.
  • Notices regarding the use of scaffolds, when needed, should be conspicuously displayed and observed.
  • Scaffold structures should be protected from trucks and other vehicles which might come into contact with them.
  • Working platforms of the scaffold should be free of ice, snow, oil, and other slippery substances before being used.

If you have suffered a serious personal injury or a loved one died as a result of a scaffold accident, please contact our New York scaffold accident attorneys to discuss your case.

Ladder Accidents

Are you looking for a ladder accident lawyer in New York?

Ladder accidents are among the most common causes of workplace injury and death in New York, particularly at construction sites. Whenever construction workers need to work at heights above ground level or a lower structural level, the risk of injury or death increases dramatically. Specific laws and rules have been enacted in order to protect construction workers who are required to work at various heights. These laws mandate that certain types of ladders or scaffolds be used for a given job and they also mandate how those safety devices are to be properly utilized. For example, an extension ladder may be the safest method of performing a particular job, but only an A-Frame ladder is available. That A-Frame ladder is the used and it is not long enough to perform the job safely and an accident results. In New York, our Labor Law places the responsibility on both the building owner and the General Contractor at a construction site to insure that the workers are given the proper ladders or other safety equipment to perform their jobs safely. For more information on the applicable laws please visit our Construction Accident page.

Not only do the laws in New York require that proper ladders be provided to construction workers, the laws also require that an owner and general contractor at a construction site insure that the ladders are not defectively maintained, placed or operated. All too often, workers at construction sites in New York are injured because they are forced to use a ladder that is old or broken and serious injuries result. The threat of termination or other repercussions often forces workers to use ladders and other equipment that they know is either unsafe or unsuitable for their job.

There are many different types of ladders in use at construction sites throughout the State. They include A-Frame ladders, step ladders, platform ladders, extension ladders with rubber or metal feet and rolling safety ladders. There are proper and recognized methods of use for each type of ladder. It is crucial that employees utilizing these types of ladders receive training on the proper methods of placement, set-up and use.

Even if a ladder is the proper safety device for a given task, the placement of a ladder at a construction site must be done with the safety of a worker at the forefront. The ground must be safe and level and the ladder cannot be placed in any area where the safety of the worker may be compromised. An accident resulting from a ladder being improperly placed may result in a finding of a Labor Law violation against the owner or the General Contractor based upon their failure to make sure that the workers at the construction site were able to perform their height related job in a safe manner.

In addition to New York law, Federal rules have been enacted to guide construction workers and companies on the safest methods of performing construction using proper and accepted ladders. For example, OSHA specifies the proper height, width rung size, placement and a host of other requirements in order for a construction worker to use a ladder safely.


Many attorneys in New York claim to handle ladder accident cases, but they do not possess the knowledge and familiarity with the applicable State and federal laws to adequately insure that their injured clients receive the maximum recovery possible. A law firm with the resources, experience, and personnel necessary to properly investigate and pursue the claim is crucial. Unfortunately, the dangers and risks associated with height related work result in accidents where construction workers suffer extremely serious or catastrophic injuries involving foot and leg fractures, spinal cord injuries resulting in paralysis, quadriplegia, paraplegia, traumatic brain injuries or death.

The New York Ladder Accident Lawyers at DeToffol & Gittleman win full financial recovery through detailed, meticulous preparation for trial. If you or a loved one has suffered a serious personal injury or died as a result of a ladder accident, please contact our firm to discuss your case.