Skip to comments.Critics say itís time NY ends 1885 Scaffold Law
Posted on 08/31/2013 12:43:50 PM PDT by Olog-hai
Years before skyscrapers, when New York Citys tallest building was still the 281-foot spire of Wall Streets historic Trinity Church, state lawmakers passed the Scaffold Law, which made property owners and contractors liable for most gravity-related injuries to workers on construction sites.
Some New York government agencies and contractors say the cost of the insurance, which can often be double that of other states, is hitting a crisis point that could soon suspend work on bridges, schools and the recovery from Superstorm Sandy.
It increases the cost of doing business and decreases what we are capable of doing in New York state, said Carley Hill, of Union Concrete and Construction Corp. in West Seneca. You are losing potential millions of dollars in jobs that could go to people.
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Oh, that kind of scaffold. Never mind. :)
Of course NYC is/was the center of the insurance industry when the law was passed ... I wonder how much bribe money in 1885 was needed to secure a 130 year windfall.
So who does the writer believe should be liable for falling accidents.
...state lawmakers passed the Scaffold Law, which made property owners and contractors liable for most "gravity-related" injuries to workers on construction sites... the cost of the insurance, which can often be double that of other states, is hitting a crisis point that could soon suspend work on bridges, schools and the recovery from Superstorm Sandy.
I’m sometimes surprised at the Occutard mentality that’s tolerated on FR.
Recently, New York’s Court of Appeals its highest court clarified that the scaffold law imposes liability whenever there is a “failure to provide workers with adequate protection from reasonably preventable, gravity-related accidents. This decision came as part of a case in which a pipe secured to a wall at about the height of the injured worker’s head came loose and struck a demolition worker.
Under earlier interpretations of the law, workers injured by a toppling object with its base at the injured worker’s level could not benefit from the scaffold law because the worker and the object were at the same level. Now, any worker struck by a falling or toppling object can seek the protection of the scaffold law, even if the base of the object is at the same height as the worker.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Buffalo out of the frustration of years of failed lobbying efforts in Albany to get the state Legislature to rescind or modify the scaffold law, said Frank DeCarlo, president of Paragon Restoration in Depew.
In a letter to the Buffalo Law Journal, DeCarlo said he formed the coalition with Jeff Valone of Try-Lock Roofing Co. of Buffalo.
DeCarlo said Democrats in the Assembly, many of whom have close ties to liability lawyers and unions, have made it clear they will not ease the scaffold law on their own. He singled out Speaker Sheldon Silver and the chairwoman of the Assembly’s labor committee, Susan John, as being particularly obstinate on the issue.
The Scaffold Law was first enacted in 1885, long before the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Workers’ Compensation. Under the Scaffold Law, contractors, employers and property owners are held absolutely liable for elevation related injuries. This means that in a lawsuit, the contractor, employer, or property owner is automatically fully at fault, even if the worker was grossly negligent. Contrary to the most basic principles of justice, defendants have virtually no opportunity to defend themselves in court. New York is the only state in the nation where a contractor or property owner cannot defend themselves in court against a negligent worker. Illinois was the last state besides New York to remove this law from their books in 1995.
The so-called “Scaffold Law” was passed in 1885 andin the event of workplace injury and subsequent lawsuitessentially places the burden of responsibility on the contractor to prove that the job site was safe for workers. Since the original legislation does not address worker liability, State Senator Patrick Gallivan (R-Erie) and Assemblyman Joe Morrelle (D-Rochester) hope to pass an amendment that would, according to The Daily News, “add language that requires juries to consider the actions of workers in weighing injury lawsuits” for the first time.
The first scaffold law, an ancestor of Labor Law 240 (1), was enacted 118 years ago (i.e. - in 1885), in response to the Legislature’s concern over unsafe conditions for employees who worked at heights. In promulgating the statute, lawmakers reacted to widespread accounts of deaths and injuries in the construction trades. Newspapers carried articles attesting to the frequency of injuries caused by rickety and defective scaffolds. In 1885, there were several articles detailing both the extent of these accidents and the legislation directed at the problem.
EXCLUSIVE: Sheldon Silver kills proposed changes to citys Scaffold Law
By Greg B. Smith / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Published: Wednesday, June 19, 2013, 2:30 AM
Updated: Wednesday, June 19, 2013, 2:30 AM
The 1885 law makes property owners and contractors liable for gravity-related injuries at construction sites. The proposed changes would have made juries consider whether their actions could have had any effect. But a spokesman for the assembly speaker said Changes to the Scaffold Law are not being considered. We dont think its the right policy to further burden injured workers.
The benefits of reforming the Scaffold Law would be felt statewide. Not only would our public projects benefit, but New York businesses would spend far less on insurance, freeing up those dollars for new jobs and investment. Further, our municipalities would see significant savings to local construction and repair projects, at a time when they need it most. Please consider working with Governor Cuomo, state and local leaders, and members of the business community to reform this antiquated law. New York cannot afford to be the only state in the nation with this Scaffold Law on the books. A balanced reform would ensure worker safety and reduce taxpayer costs.
Scaffold Law reform does not take away workers rights; rather it would improve safety, create middle-class jobs, and provide equity for all. Scaffold Law reform simply adds a comparative negligence standard, which is available in all other cases of civil liability in New York State. Scaffold Law reform would only apply to a criminal act, use of drugs or alcohol, failure of the employee to use safety devices furnished at the job site, failure to comply with employer instructions regarding the use of safety devices at the job site, or failure of the employee to comply with safe work practices.
Silly politicians, they could have just outlawed gravity.
Liability doesn't enter into it; it is such an old fashioned concept, dreamed up and implemented by old, dead, mostly Christian, white men. There's plenty more "work at their own risk"
wetbacks illegal aliens crimaliens illegal immigrants undocumented immigrants informal guest workers to take the places of the ones that splatter themselves.
I believe there's a hidden clause buried somewhere in the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill that addresses this issue, right near the clause that also exempts them from the Obamacare mandates.
Anything that hurts high density construction helps the conservative cause. As it becomes too expensive to build tall buildings in the city, people and businesses will move faster to the suburbs and beyond where the population density is less, and so is the need for big government, taxes, laws, and high construction costs. Anything that encourages people to live an American lifestyle rather than a communist one is good.
Conservatives are for free markets, remember? The only reason there’s high density construction is real estate costs, not some kind of commie conspiracy. Commies don’t build, they’re opportunistic parasites.
Long, long overdue.
Conservatives need to get more sophisticated about supporting the conditions that promote freedom. High density communal living always creates more communists. Look at any election results map. While some communists move to NYC, most of them develop their communism from living there. People living 70,000 per square mile is not the natural state of man. If businesses throw in the towel on $2,000 per square foot high rise construction costs and move to more free areas, their employees and families can learn to live like Americans. Traditional America’s biggest enemy right now is the high rise city. While conservatives don’t support this NY scaffolding law, we should pick a completely different battle.
Large cities have attracted immigrant groups who (ahem) have found it hard to adapt and support themselves, and none of them have been from much of a tradition other than monarchies and other forms of despotism; since the 19th c political machines have had success in building a permanent hold on all the other anti-democratic forces, such as ‘labor’ unions and the Mob (and sometimes that’s redundant).
Truman came from Missouri, which was largely rural in his day, and yet owed his own political rise and career to the Pendergast machine. It’s been written that Truman helped bring him down, but that’s a bit of a story. Truman also was a teaching example for the three kinds of memory — Long Term, Short Term, and Convenient Memory. And he was a rabid single party state Demwit.
The Scaffold law effects workers compensation insurance. In the other 49 states if a worker gets hurt from a fall he is covered by workers comp., but the building owner and contractor are protected from lawsuits if the worker is covered by workers comp. In NY state, the worker can still sue everybody in sight, thus no private insurance company will write a policy for any construction work in NY since 2003. All comp and liability insurance in NY can only be purchased from the state government, with minimum premium of $80,000 (2003). Thus competition is limited in that out of state contractors do not work in NY if they do not do a large amount of their work in NY to justify the insurance payments. My company works in the NYC area, but just in NJ and CT, fortunately auto insurance is not affected, so you can drive between the two. If the Scaffold law is dropped, this would be a big deal for me.
Truman couldn't succeed as a farmer or businessman so by middle life decided life as government clock puncher was for him. It's remarkable how unaccomplished most of the Democrat machine cogs really are. Barky and Harry have a lot in common, except Harry wasn't an urban media project.