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.

Source: NYTimes.com