It’s time to set the record straight about New York's Scaffold Law.
Myth: Scaffold Law reform would have little or no effect on job creation.
Fact: Since Illinois repealed its Scaffold Law in 1995, the number of construction jobs rose 25%, from 211,000 in 1994 to 265,000 in 2000. In New York, a recent study by the Pacific Research Institute estimated that Scaffold Law reform could create as many as 86,000 jobs.
Myth: Reforming the Scaffold Law would make work sites less safe
Fact: Following Illinois' Scaffold Law repeal in 1995, construction site safety improved dramatically. Between 1995 and 2000, construction site fatalities declined as a percentage of construction workers by 30%. The Scaffold Law disconnects workers from responsibility for their actions, which is inconsistent with the goal of safety. In fact, a study by the Albany Law Program on Intragovernmental Affairs concluded the absolute liability standard of the Scaffold Law does not drive workplace safety. And despite having the Scaffold Law, the rate of construction injuries in New York exceeds that of other states with major metropolitan areas such as Florida, Texas, and Illinois.
Myth: The Scaffold Law only affects contractors and builders
Fact: Every New Yorker pays for the Scaffold Law. On average, the Scaffold Law adds $10,000 to the cost of a new home. Taxes are assessed according to the value of a home, which is inflated due to the cost of the Scaffold Law, and homeowners pay those increased taxes for as long as they own the home. Additionally, local governments and taxpayers pay more for insurance because of the Scaffold Law. Pure premium losses for construction projects in New York, especially New York City, are the highest in the Nation by a factor of three, and these costs are a significant factor in every taxpayer funded construction project - from roads and bridges to repairs to government owned buildings and schools. Moreover, municipalities bear the cost of judgments and settlements when they are sued under the Scaffold Law.