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Opponents reignite debate over New York Scaffold Law

Working on scaffolds places construction employees high above the ground and at risk of injuries and death from falls. Because of this danger, New York lawmakers have enacted special legal protections for people who work on scaffolding. But contractors, insurers and property owners have long said the law is unfair, and they are now waging a new campaign against the law.

Recently, a coalition of contractors announced that they would start a new advertising and lobbying campaign to modify the Scaffold Law. They argue that the current law is prejudicial against contractors and property owners and leads to astronomical settlements. But advocates for workers say that modifying the law would be detrimental for a number of reasons.


First, they say the amendment would create fewer incentives for property owners and contractors to take safety precautions. Second, workers say that modifying the law could hit immigrant laborers especially hard. These workers are more likely to work for nonunion companies and may not receive proper safety training and equipment. They may be less likely to fear being fired if they demand a safer work environment.

The scaffold law requires contractors and property owners to make sure that scaffolds, hoists and other devices are constructed and operated in a way that is safe for employees. It makes contractors and owners liable for violations of the law that cause injuries to workers. Proponents of changes to the law want to make juries or arbiters consider whether to reduce damages based on the injured worker’s failure to follow safety rules or other negligent acts.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving scaffolding, an experienced attorney can evaluate whether you have a legal claim and can represent you in a lawsuit for money damages.

Source: New York Times, “Contractors and Workers at Odds Over Scaffold Law,” Kirk Semple, Dec. 17, 2013

  • Our law firm represents workers who have been injured on construction accidents in New York. To learn more, visit our page on falls from scaffolds.

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