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Accidents Involving Painters at Construction Sites

Painting might seem like one of the least dangerous jobs on a construction site. Typically coming in only at the tail end of a construction job, painters nonetheless confront many of the same hazards as other workers. They can fall off ladders or scaffolding, and workplace safety might become laxer as the project nears completion. If you are a painter injured in a construction accident, please contact Powers & Santola, LLP, to review your accident. Our Syracuse construction accident lawyers will help you understand who you can legally hold liable for your injuries, along with what evidence to collect.

Accidents & Injuries

Painters can suffer serious injuries even when working at ground level. Some of the more serious accidents include:

  • Struck-by accidents. A painter can get struck by falling materials and tools, such as a sandblaster or bucket of paint.
  • Falls. Many painters need to work on scaffolding and ladders to reach the tops of walls and the ceiling. They can fall when scaffolding or lifts malfunction.
  • Toxic chemicals and fumes. Painters need proper ventilation, otherwise toxins can overwhelm them. They might collapse or, if they are working on a ladder, end up falling when they lose consciousness. Certain chemicals can also burn exposed parts of the body.
  • Industrial illness. Inhalation of particulate matter and chemicals can lead to respiratory illnesses, especially when inhaled in large quantities. Construction workers might fall ill years after working as a painter.

Painters suffer many of the same injuries as other construction employees, including head injuries, back injuries, fractures, contusions, chest injuries, burns, and paralysis. Some can develop serious illnesses when engaged in paint removal.

Legal Protections for Painters

The New York Labor Law protects painters, much as it does other construction workers. Specifically, Labor Law 241(6) requires that construction owners and contractors comply with all safety rules made by the New York Department of Labor, and they are liable when they don’t.

Part 23 of the New York Industrial Code has multiple provisions dealing specifically with safety for painters, which are found at §23-2.8:

  • Machine sanding. Workers who are performing machine sanding should receive an approved respirator in most situations, unless their machine has a dust collector.
  • Painting in confined spaces. Those removing or applying paint in confined spaces must perform their work so that they don’t injure others nearby.
  • Paint spraying. Anyone engaged in paint spraying or working nearby should have an approved respirator. Workers spraying paint should also get protective oil, cream, or grease to use on exposed body parts. Sometimes mechanical exhaust ventilation must be provided when working in tanks and other enclosed vessels.
  • Brush painting. Those brush painting in confined spaces using something other than water-mixed paints should receive respirators and, when working in confined vessels, mechanical ventilation.
  • Removing coating. Employers must provide respirators and mechanical ventilation where coating removal is done with a volatile solvent in a confined space.

These safety regulations are designed to protect workers by limiting exposure to dangerous materials. A contractor or site owner cannot simply ignore them or throw open a window and believe they have provided sufficient ventilation. If a construction site owner or contractor violates these regulations, then injured workers can sue.

Scaffold Law

A painter who falls or is struck by a falling object might have additional legal rights under New York Labor Law 240, called the “Scaffold Law.” This law imposes absolute liability on construction owners when a worker is injured in a fall from an elevation device, like a scaffold. It also covers injuries by falling objects.

Painters have important rights to sue if they:

  • Fall from scaffolding
  • Fall from ladders or lifts
  • Are struck by a falling item while working on the ground  

The absolute liability provision is very helpful for workers. The law does not cover all painters, such as those working in a one- or two-family home, unless the owner directed your work. But it should apply to painters working on larger projects.

Product Defects & Your Rights

Some painters are provided with safety equipment, like respirators, but end up injured anyway. One reason might be that your personal protection equipment is defective. As an example, you could have used a sandblaster with a dust collector, but the collector failed to work properly. Consequently, you end up with respiratory issues from extensive dust inhalation.

When defective products injure workers, you have rights under New York’s product liability laws. The state holds manufacturers liable when they put dangerous products in the stream of commerce.

An injured painter might sue the manufacturer of any of the following:

  • Respirator
  • Fans or other mechanical ventilation
  • Ladders
  • Scaffolds

Try to hang onto any product you believe has injured you. We need to establish that there was a defect and that this defect directly caused your injuries.

Painter Compensation for Construction Accidents

Please call our firm to fully review the accident and your injuries. At a minimum, those hurt while working can apply for workers’ compensation benefits, which in New York cover medical care and some of your lost wages if you are too hurt to return to work. Workers’ comp is no-fault, and most employers should have a policy. Notify your employer very soon after the accident, and they should give you a form to fill out.

Other lawsuits based on the Labor Law or product liability allow workers to seek full compensation for lost wages, along with pain and suffering damages. The Labor Law has been a big help for construction workers who otherwise might not receive full compensation. Our legal team can help you understand what steps to take to build an evidentiary basis for your legal claim.

Our Law Firm is Dedicated to Your Wellbeing

Injured construction workers face many obstacles to getting the legal compensation they need following a paint-related accident. Do not let a contractor or insurance agent minimize your injuries or your pain. We will step in and protect your rights. Call Powers & Santola, LLP, today to schedule a meeting with one of our Syracuse construction accident lawyers.

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