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.
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.