Amsterdam News: Coalition launched to protect construction workers and defend scaffold law

A diverse collection of workers, organizations and advocates have formed a new coalition designed to defend New York’s Scaffold Safety Law and push for increased enforcement of New York’s construction safety standards.

“Tens of thousands of hard-working men and women, many of them immigrants, risk their lives building and repairing our city,” said SEIU 32BJ President Hector Figueroa. “Cleaning windows or working on a scaffold is dangerous. Why would our elected officials want to make it even more dangerous by removing key protections like the Scaffold Safety Law?”

Under the Scaffold Safety Law, property owners and the general contractors who control worksites are responsible for providing protections for their workers. Owners and contractors are not held liable for such accidents unless their failure to provide proper safety equipment caused a worker’s injury.

Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, defended the law in a statement.

“Construction in New York City can be dangerous work, particularly when done at heights, without owners and contractors providing adequate safety protections,” said LaBarbera. “We believe the Scaffold Safety Law is an important contributor to having these protections in place and to holding those who control projects accountable for accidents and injuries that occur when they fail to provide such protections. We do agree that a problem exists in the general liability insurance market for construction projects. Too few insurers are writing policies, the policies they are writing offer less coverage and, on top of that, premiums are increasing in an industry where all indications are that safety is improving.”

Click here to read Stephon Johnson’s full article in the Amsterdam News.