NY Labor Legislation §240: What Is a ‘Construction’?

Andrea M. Alonso and Kevin G. Faley

Section 240 of the New York Labor Code was enacted over a hundred years ago in response to legislature concerns about unsafe conditions affecting employees who work in height-related workplaces. The law obliges owners and general contractors to protect workers who “erect, demolish, repair, modify, paint, clean or display a building or structure”. See NY Lab. Act §240 (McKinney 1986).

Although Labor Law 240 (1) covers work performed on a “building” or “structure”, neither “building” nor “structure” is defined. Consistent with the intent of the law, the courts have liberally interpreted the word “structure” to mean much more than just buildings or houses. For example, the Court of Appeal at Caddy v Interborough Rapid Transit Co., 195 NY 415, 420, 88 NE 747 (1909) ruled that a “structure” is “any production or work that is man-made or made up of parts in a particular way put together. “A hundred years later, the appeals court still applies the same definition. See Lewis-Moors v Contel of New York, 78 NY2d 942, 943 (1991).

In Joblon v. Solow, 91 NY2d 457, 464, 695 NE2d 237 (1998), the appellate court refused to limit the discharge to construction sites only, as this was “a possible recovery for work on many structures falling under this definition fall, would exclude term, but found from construction sites. “Whether or not an item is a ‘structure’ is factual and must be determined on a case-by-case basis. See Corning v Elms Realty, 65 Misc.3d 1234 (A), 119 NYS3d 827 (NY Sup. Ct. 2019). The dishes may take into account the size, purpose, design, composition and degree of complexity of the items; the ease or difficulty of its assembly and disassembly; the tools required to create and disassemble it; the nature and the degree of its connecting parts; and the length of time the article is supposed to exist. However, it doesn’t control a single factor. I would.

Ever since the caddy court defined a structure, the courts have applied this term to various points. Examples of this are a telephone pole with attached hardware and cables (see Lewis-Moors, 78 NY2d 942, 578), a ticket counter in a convention center (see Panico versus Advanstar Commc’ns, 92 AD3d 656, 658 (2012)). a power protection installed in a gravel pit (see Hodges v. Boland’s Excavating & Topsoil, 24 AD3d 1089, 1091 (2005)), a window display at a home improvement show (see Sinzieri v. Expositions, 270 AD2d 332, 333 (2000)), a utility vehicle (see Moore v. Shulman, 259 AD2d 975 (1999)), a pumping station (see Cabri v. ICOS Corp., Am., 240 AD2d 456, 457 (1997)) and a substantial freestanding Shell gasoline shield (see Smith v. Shell Oil Co., 85 NY2d 1000, 1001 (1995)). Consequently, lawyers shouldn’t take the word structure for granted. Although a construction site may not appear like a structure in a particular case, a court is ready and able to recognize it as such.

The plaintiffs’ attempts to broaden the scope of the definition of “structure” have produced startling results. An example of an unsuspecting construction site ultimately found as a structure was McCoy v Abigail Kirsch at Tappan Hill, 99 AD3d 13, 17 (2012) where the court found that dismantling a wedding roof (a chuppah) was a structure. The court ruled that the chuppah was classified as a “structure” because it was made up of “various interconnected pipes ten feet long and three inches wide, attached to steel metal bases that supported an attached fabric roof. A ladder and various hand tools were required to assemble and disassemble the components of the chuppah in a process that would take a skilled worker more than a few minutes. “

Likewise, the Canfield Court of Forman Jay, 46 Misc. 3d 1210 (A) (NY Sup. Ct. 2015) noted that a tiki hut was a structure because of its size, purpose, design, composition, and complexity. The court found that assembling the tiki hut required numerous tools and separate teams of carpenters, dressers, and scenic partners. I would. Although the tiki hut only existed for two months, this factor in and of itself was insufficient to outweigh the other factors that strongly led the conclusion that the tiki hut was a “structure” within the meaning of §240 (1) supported. I would.

In addition, the Agate v City of New York Court, No. 04-CV-5457 (RRM), 2009 WL 3171799, on * 5 (EDNY October 2, 2009) found that a ferris wheel is a “structure”. The court ruled that the assembly of the ferris wheel, which was approximately 85 feet high and took 35 hours, consisted of a hub, spokes, steel bars and tubs with seats for carnival visitors and constituted a “structure”. I would. The plaintiff also suffered injuries at Stringer v. Musacchia, 11 NY3d 212, 898 NE2d 545 (2008) when he fell off a ladder while building a hunting shed. The appeals court found that a hunting shed falls within the scope of Labor Law 240 (1). I would.

In addition, the Faldetta court against New York state found 7 Misc. 3d 1018 (A), 801 NYS2d 233 (Ct. Cl. 2005) took the view that a tent “exactly” falls within the definition of a structure. The court concluded that the tent had a structure as “[t]The components of the tent included six arches and their supports, center purlins, eaves or edge purlins, cross braces and a vinyl cover. ” I would. In Kharie v S. Shore Record Mgmt., 118 AD3d 955, 956, 988 NYS2d 654 (2014), the court ruled that the shelves in question constituted a section 240 (1) structure “since they were made up of individual parts ( Metal grille and cross bars) finally attached. “

Similarly, the Corning Court, 65 Misc.3d 1234 (A) found that a temporary stage shed was a structure within the meaning of Section 240 (1). The court found that the stage shed consisted of three walls and a roof and a fourth wall with a built-in steel window. This was the construction and later the demolition of a temporary structure under the Labor Code. ” I would.

At Ciancio v Woodlawn Cemetery Ass’n, 249 AD2d 86, 88 (1st Dept. 1998), the plaintiff fell from a six inch wide plank into an open grave and suffered injuries. The court ruled that a grave vault represents a “structure” in the context of “a production or work that is artificially constructed or consists of parts that are connected to one another in a certain way”. I would.

Similarly, the plaintiff fell into a steam shaft at Dos Santos v Consolidated Edison of NY, 104 AD3d 606 (1st Division, 2013). The court ruled that a manhole is a structure within the meaning of §240 (1) as it consists of concrete boxes with four walls, a base and a manhole at the top for access. I would. These cases provide insightful information about the unconventional and bizarre objects that courts have viewed as a structure within the meaning of Section 240 Labor Law.

While the above cases may suggest that the definition of structure is perpetual, there are limits to a court’s interpretation. The most notable case for this limitation is Lombardi v. Stout, 80, NY2d, 290, 296 (1992). The plaintiff was injured when he fell from a ladder while chopping a tree. The court of appeal found that a tree is clearly not a “building” or “structure” within the meaning of Section 240 (1). it is a product of nature.

The court in Tanzer v A. Terzi Prods., 244 AD2d 224, 224 (1997) ruled that temporary decorations of a building used as a backdrop for a television film were not classified as a structure. In addition, the court in Kretzschmar v New York State Urban Dev., 13 AD3d 270, 270 (2004) ruled that removing a sign from a temporary exhibit hanging from a ceiling in the Javits Center does not constitute structure. Finally, the court in Chuchuca v Redux Realty, 303 AD2d 239 (2003) ruled that a commercial dishwasher is neither a structure nor part of a structure within the meaning of the definition of the Labor Code §240 (1).

Accordingly, over the past 10 years, case law has provided helpful insights into how willing courts were to expand the definition of “structure” in accordance with Section 240 of the Labor Code. While the Labor Code should be interpreted liberally, it should also be read naturally to get its precise meaning without forcing it in any direction to meet the needs of both sides in a particular case. See Shannahan v Empire Eng’g, 204 NY 543, 548 (1912). Because of the various “directions” in which the word structure of courts can be interpreted, lawyers should be careful that anything that is built can be considered sufficient structure for the purposes of Section 240 Labor Law. From a chuppah to a tiki hut, the definition of a structure goes beyond what might initially be assumed.

Kevin G. Faley and Andrea M. Alonso are partners in the company Morris Duffy Alonso & Faley. Yalda Khwaja, a paralegal who helped prepare this article.

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