Scaffold Law Reform News
Letter: NY'S Scaffold Law Saps Economy
- Published on 03 March 2014
In today's Olean Times-Herald, Brad Walters, Executive Director of the Southern Tier Builders Association, writes of the steep costs of the Scaffold Law to taxpayers and the private sector.
A recent study done by Cornell uncovers the truth about New York’s antiquated Section 240 of the Labor Law, more commonly known as the Scaffold Law.
The law was created in 1885 and has remained unchanged over the years in spite of greatly improved materials, methods and safety procedures and equipment. The law was put into effect in the days when contractors used wooden scaffolding to build high-rise buildings in New York City.
Today no other state in the country has such a law. In fact, the Cornell study suggests there is no other law like this on this planet.
The last state in the United States to have such a law was Illinois, where it was abolished in 1995. What were the results? A study done by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in Illinois from 1995 to 2006 found that construction fatalities fell from 1.7 per 100,000 to negative 2 per 100,000 and construction injuries fell from 2.7 per hundred workers to negative 0.7 per hundred workers.
That same study found that construction jobs on an annual basis increased from roughly 220,000 annually to a high of almost 280,000 jobs.
Schenectady Daily Gazette: Time to Dismantle Scaffold Law
- Published on 01 March 2014
In today's Schenectady Daily Gazette, the editorial board weighs in with strong support for reforming the Scaffold Law.
Sometimes New York state's legislative and regulatory excess can be dizzying. That's certainly the case with the "Scaffold Law," which holds contractors and property owners strictly liable even when a worker's own negligence, or drinking, or criminal behavior, caused his injury in a fall from a scaffold or ladder. The law is unnecessary, counterproductive, a drag on the economy and needs to be scrapped or at least revised. It's unnecessary because since it was passed in the 1880s, government has taken major steps to prevent accidents and deal with their aftermath, including the Occupational Safety and Health Act and federal workers' compensation insurance.
It also hurts businesses, kills jobs and costs taxpayers by making liability insurance extremely expensive, or even unavailable. How can it be otherwise when the contractor or property owner is held automatically, 100 percent liable for accidents involving a fall from a height, without any consideration of fault or negligence?