The legislative history of New York's Labor Law indicates that it was enacted as part of a wave of progressive reforms in the 1920's in order to protect workers engaged in hazardous jobs, particularly height-related tasks. The "Scaffold Act" protections of the Labor Law were intended to provide strict liability in favor of construction workers who were injured by inadequate scaffolds or other safety devices while building skyscrapers. However, the courts have expanded the statute's scope well beyond the legislative intent, in one case applying strict liability to the claim of an office worker who fell, indoors, while cleaning an office partition. This article argues that the courts, in interpreting this New York statute, should apply a strict liability standard to accidents that take place during actual construction, and that an ordinary negligence standard should apply to accidents during the course of routine maintenance and cleaning.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/barry_temkin/14/