The Real Deal New York

Construction industry challenges Scaffold Law in state court

June 17, 2013 09:30AM

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Screengrab of a scaffold collapse on East 65th Street

Screen grab of a scaffold collapse on East 65th Street

A long-standing state law that puts the onus of scaffolding-related construction accidents on contractors is being challenged in court, the New York Daily News reported.

The Scaffold Law is the last of its kind in the country and stipulates that if a construction worker using scaffolding or a ladder is injured, the burden is on the contractor to prove the job site was safe.

But this week in Albany, the construction industry is saying the law absolves workers of responsibility and rewards them with large settlements even in cases of their own negligence.

Keeping it the law “is going to destroy the construction industry,” Lou Coletti, head of the Building Trades Employers Association, which represents 1,700 contractors across New York, told the Daily News.

In past years, contractors and the Real Estate Board of New York have sought to kill the law entirely, but have failed. Now, legislation sponsored by Sen. Patrick Gallivan (R-Erie) and Assemblyman Joe Morelle, a Rochester Democrat, seeks to add language that requires juries to consider the actions of workers in weighing injury lawsuits.

But labor unions are fighting to preserve the law as-is, saying that it holds developers and contractors accountable for job sites.

Changing the law is “really about greed,” Edward Ott, former director of the NYC Central Labor Council, told the Daily News. [NYDN]  – Hiten Samtani

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