On October 10, 2013, the New York Court of Appeals – New York State’s highest court – issued a decision discussing key components of New York Labor Law § 240(1). Specifically, the court was asked to interpret the meaning of “cleaning” under Labor Law § 240(1). And what activities will be considered “cleaning” under the statute. Does Labor Law § 240(1) apply if injured while cleaning on the job?
In that case, the Plaintiff, Mr. Soto, was an employee of a commercial cleaning company hired to provide cleaning services for a retail store. Mr. Soto was injured when he fell from a four-foot-tall ladder while dusting a six-foot-high display shelf. The court decided that Mr. Soto was not engaged in the type of “cleaning” that would be covered by Labor Law § 240(1).
Duties Under Labor Law § 240(1)
Labor Law § 240(1) imposes a nondelegable duty and absolute liability upon owners and contractors for failing to provide safety devices for workers subject to elevation-related risks in circumstances specified by the statute. To recover, the worker must have been engaged in a covered activity. Those include “the erection, demolition, repairing, altering, painting, cleaning, or pointing of a building or structure.”
The Court has applied Labor Law § 240(1) to various commercial cleaning projects. However, they reject the notion that Labor Law § 240(1) should cover all cleaning that occurs in a commercial setting, no matter how mundane.
The Court provides several factors to help determine whether the statute applies to a particular on-the-job accident. An activity cannot be characterized as “cleaning” under the statute, if the task:
- Is routine, in the sense that it is the type of job that occurs on a daily, weekly, or other relatively frequent and recurring basis as part of the ordinary maintenance and care of commercial premises;
- requires neither specialized equipment nor expertise nor the unusual deployment of labor;
- generally involves insignificant elevation risks comparable to those inherent in typical domestic or household cleaning; and
- in light of the core purpose of Labor Law § 240(1) to protect construction workers is unrelated to any ongoing construction, renovation, painting, alteration, or repair project.
Contact Our Personal Injury Lawyers If You Were Injured while Cleaning on the Job
The presence or absence of any one factor is not determinative of a worker’s case outcome. It takes a skilled attorney to decipher the complex language of Labor Law § 240(1) and to determine whether the law applies to a particular accident. The construction accident attorneys at Hach & Rose, LLP have the experience to successfully prosecute claims under Labor Law § 240(1).
If you have suffered an injury on the job – whether it occurred while cleaning or performing a different activity – we invite you to contact Hach & Rose, LLP. We have the experience, results, resources, reputation, and commitment to our clients to provide the best legal representation possible.