The Real Deal New York

Real estate leaders slam scaffolding law

March 12, 2013 05:30PM

The real estate lobby is pushing to change a law they is outmoded, drives up construction costs and stalls projects, Crain’s reported. Section 240 of the New York State Labor Code, or the “scaffolding law,” puts an unfair amount of liability on developers and contractors, they argue.

The law, which dates to the 1800s, is written such that when a worker is injured while doing construction, the property manager is essentially always liable, Crain’s said. Industry figures at the Greater New York Construction User Council, which met this morning, argue that “comparative liability,” which would allow a jury or arbiter to take a worker’s own negligence into account, would be a better legal test. Opponents of the scaffolding law argue that no other states have similar laws.

“I don’t think there’s a more important issue facing the development community right now,” said Christopher Jaskiewicz, chief operating officer of developer the Gotham Organization, at the user council panel.

But building trade unions and trial lawyers say the law protects workers who are not responsible for securing scaffolding.

“To the extent that [developers and owners] are losing these cases, it’s because they absolutely didn’t do their job and failed to protect workers,” Paul Fernandes, chief of staff at the New York Building Trades Council, told Crain’s. [Crain’s]-Guelda Voien