June 24, 2013
New York Scaffolding Law Avoids Proposed Changes
By Jonathan Damashek
A century-old construction law will not undergo changes that would place a greater emphasis on worker responsibility, New York news sources claim. According to reports, Sen. Patrick Gallivan and Assemblyman Joe Morelle sought to add new legislature that would obligate juries to weigh workers’ actions when considering liability in construction injury cases.
The proposed changes were met with fierce opposition from trial lawyers and labor unions who wanted to protect construction workers from accident liability.
A greater emphasis on worker responsibility could lead to fewer successful construction accident claims, one article said. The proposed changes indicate a tension between worker safety and millions of dollars in insurance payouts. Last week, a spokesman for the assembly speaker said that the New York Scaffolding Law would remain unchanged and continue to protect worker safety.
The law was enacted in 1885 and has since protected victims of “gravity-related inquires at construction sites” during the construction of the new World Trade Center, the Empire State Building, and the Woolworth Building. According to the law, contractors and property owners are still responsible for falls from ladders and scaffolding during construction projects, regardless of workers’ actions. The proposed legislature sought to make more workers responsible for their injuries, resulting in fewer construction accident payouts.
Without the changes, New York’s Scaffolding law will continue to protect construction workers as the last scaffolding law in the United States.
Not everyone is happy with the proposal outcome though, and some New York builders claim that the current scaffolding law can cost hundreds of millions of dollars during a construction project. However, the assembly spokesperson claimed that the law would not undergo changes because “we don’t think it’s the right policy to further burden injured workers.”