Contractors & Workers at Odds over Scaffold Law

In 1885, lawmakers in NY enacted a law intended to provide safety to construction workers who found themselves facing great danger while working at high heights.

The measure, known as the Scaffold Law, required employers on building sites to ensure the safety of laborers working above the ground. Recently, contractors and property owners have renewed the campaign against the law, arguing that the law is prejudicial against contractors and property owners, essentially forgiving employees of their responsibility for their own accidents, awarding them huge settlements. They insist that this is increasing insurance premiums and affecting the state’s economic growth.

We, as trial attorneys, argue that the law is essential to ensuring the safety of our workers in one of the world’s most dangerous job industries. The law holds contractors and property owners accountable for keeping job sites safe for their workers, more specifically; scaffolds, hoists and other devices that allow for construction work at great heights are to be constructed, placed and operated as to give proper protection to a worker. For example, a scaffold is to be equipped with a back and side rails as to ensure the worker does not fall off the scaffolding if he was to slip backwards. If it is not and an injury occurs, the property owner and contractor are liable.

The law protects both union and nonunion workers, creating liability on these dangerous job sites. If the law were to be adjusted to place liability on the worker, it would reduce incentive for the property owners and contractors to provide proper safety precautions for their workers.

Workers’ advocates argue that a change to this law to place liability on the worker would have a severe impact on minority workers, who are more likely to work for nonunion companies that usually do not provide proper safety training and equipment.

If you have been seriously injured in a construction site accident involving a fall from a height, we can help you receive the compensation you deserve.


Dear friends and clients,

In furtherance of our firms culture of commitment to always act with compassion, concern and commitment to our clients, community and colleagues, we have been taking precautions to ensure that we are still fulfilling our ethical and moral obligations while prioritizing health, wellness and safety of all we can. 

As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced changes to many lives and businesses in our communities, and around the world. We, much like our neighbors and friends, have been taking precautions to ensure that we are still fulfilling our ethical and moral obligation to our clients, while also prioritizing the health, wellness and safety of our employees.

Until further notice, our offices will be closed to the public to encourage social distancing and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Our team is still hard at work, many from home, and you may still call, email, live chat or video conference us if you or a loved one is seeking legal assistance. As the first law firm to offer our clients secure online access to their case file more than a decade ago, we have always been believers in using technology to make life easier and information more accessible. In these present times it has been a smooth transition for us to continue to offer our clients the same seamless and thorough service that you deserve and are accustomed to.

This pandemic is unlike anything any of us have faced in our lifetimes, and while we can continue to emotionally support one another through it all, staying home and keeping your distance is vital to the health and wellness of our communities. It does not feel good to break routines, cancel events and retreat from our normal, day-to-day socializing, but let us remember that, in times of strife, prior generations were asked to go to war and we are simply being asked to stay home. Your isolation equals more lives saved, and more time for medical providers to prepare for the treatment of patients battling COVID-19.

When the dust settles, we will join together with a greater appreciation for our lives, local businesses, loved ones and health. Until then, we will continue to offer guidance from a safe distance.

Very truly yours,

Andrew G. Finkelstein and the staff of Jacoby & Meyers, LLP