Cuomo: Scaffold law change isn’t top priority

Move to hold workers partially responsible in accidents falls flat for now

New York’s so-called scaffold law, which holds contractors and property owners liable for any worker falls for which they are at least partially at fault, isn’t changing anytime soon.

Critics of the law, officially known as Labor Law 240, have for years angled to change the law so that workers who contribute to gravity-related incidents in any way also share liability. In situations where workers do not abide by safety procedures or are intoxicated, for example, construction executives and developers want them to be held at least partially responsible.

But Governor Andrew Cuomo told Crain’s Wednesday that no changes will be made, because the issue isn’t a top priority.

“My calculus is you have to prioritize what you want to get done first,” Cuomo told Crain’s. “You get a much bigger bang for the buck waging these battles than [trying to reform the] scaffold law, or by the way another 10 battles that have to be fought. Even if you asked businesses writ large [to] prioritize the problems, they would have started: personal income tax, corporate tax, estate tax… they would have gone right down the list.”

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As for the proposed scaffold law change?

“Now they would say scaffold, but they would say scaffold what?” Cuomo told Crain’s. “No. 8? 12? Depends on what business you’re in, [and] you basically have to be in the construction business.” [Crain’s]Julie Strickland