Buffalo News: LETTERS: Gutting Scaffold Law will put workers at risk

It’s certainly true that millions of New Yorkers desperately need quality, affordable housing. But we can’t build the housing we need by asking construction workers to put their lives on the line. Unfortunately, that is what so-called reform of the Scaffold Law would do. The law is an important protection that keeps construction workers – still one of the most dangerous jobs in America – safe and out of harm’s way. It’s a common-sense safety incentive that requires those who control a construction site to provide proper safety equipment and training, and holds them accountable if they fail to do so. But the law is fair. As long as the safety rules are followed, contractors and owners cannot be held liable under the law.

The Scaffold Law protects thousands of workers who risk their lives on construction sites each day. It’s especially important for Latino and immigrant workers, whom studies show are most at risk for on-site injuries.

If contractors want lower insurance costs, they should ask the insurance industry why it refuses to open its books and show exactly how its expensive premiums are calculated. In a letter to the editor, opponents of the law recently cited “experts” who say the Scaffold Law costs hundreds of millions a year, but that figure comes from a debunked SUNY Rockefeller Institute report that was selectively edited by business lobbyists and had to be retracted by SUNY after numerous flaws were exposed. The truth is, there is still no real evidence that New York’s higher costs are due to safety laws.

New York will have to think big to come up with the right solutions for our housing woes, but gutting the Scaffold Law can’t be one of them. We can’t build the housing New Yorkers need on the backs of injured workers.

Sam Magavern

Co-Director

Partnership for the Public Good

Clarke Gocker

Director of Workforce Initiatives

PUSH Buffalo

Click here to read the letter in The Buffalo News.