It seems like every year there is another group that tries to convince lawmakers to change, or even eliminate, New York’s Scaffold Law – and this year is no different. Sadly, these proposed changes are rarely to the benefit of construction workers, the very people this law is supposed to protect.
Essentially, this important safety law – otherwise known as New York Labor Law §240 – currently works like this: When a construction worker suffers an injury while working at an elevated height, such as atop scaffolding, liability for the injury typically rests with the property owner or general contractor. In some cases, this law provides the best avenue of legal recourse for construction workers injured in severe falls. Unfortunately, if efforts to change this law are successful, it will surely be construction workers who pay the price.
Recent challenges to the law
According to a report in Westchester Magazine, the most recent group to propose changes to New York’s Scaffold Law is the Business Council of Westchester. While this group does not wish to completely eliminate the law, they are seeking to add a comparative negligence element to it – meaning courts would have to take into account whether a construction worker’s own negligence contributed to the injury.
Proponents of the law, however, are skeptical about this proposed change. In fact, many believe that weakening the law would, in effect, shift responsibility from general contractors and property owners – who control the site – to the workers themselves – who do not control the site.
Regardless of whether the Scaffold Law actually changes, one thing will remain the same: Construction workers will continue to suffer severe fall-related injuries. If you or a family member has been injured in a construction fall, you need to speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible.