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Scaffold Law: The Argument Between Workers and Contractors Continue

The long debate over whether or not the Scaffold Law should be reformed or repealed continues. In short, contractors, property owners and insurers want it repealed because they feel it is antiquated and biased against them. Labor advocates want it to remain and continue to protect the safety of New York construction workers.

The Scaffold Law was enacted in New York back in 1885 to hold employers accountable in upholding safety measures for workers that were laboring at dangerous heights during the skyscraper boom. Over the years, there has been some lobbying in an attempt to repeal the law, but in recent months there has been a growing push from opposers to eradicate the Scaffold Law.

Contractors, property owners and insurers maintain that the Scaffold Law doesn’t hold workers responsible for their own safety if they are not following  proper precautions on the job. If a worker gets injured on a construction site due their their own unsafe work habits, contractors claim that the Scaffold Law still holds them accountable for the worker’s accident resulting in substantial payouts for lawsuit settlements.

Workers and advocates have been fighting back just as hard to keep it in place. Unions are standing firm about the Scaffold Law being a  necessary component to ensuring safety in the above ground construction workplace. Supporters of the law say that it forces contractors to adhere to safety rules and regulations.

Advocates also argue that if the Scaffold Law is repealed then property owners and contractors will fall short in ensuring safety for construction workers.  They also assert that this will put  minority and immigrant laborers in harm’s way.  The Scaffold Law protects both union and non-union workers. Minority and immigrant laborers are more inclined to work for non-union contractors and as a result, may not get the proper safety equipment and training needed. It’s not uncommon for immigrant laborers to fail in reporting unsafe working conditions for fear of being fired.

There has been some buzz about Governor Cuomo having a hand in possibly making changes to the law, but at this juncture it looks like the Scaffold Law will remain as is.

Angela Luongo, a Paralegal with Turley Redmond, & Rosasco, L.L.P. contributed to the writing of this post.
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