Buffalo News: LETTERS: No need to forfeit safety to add jobs

The April jobs report should permanently put to rest the old canard that we cannot have both strong jobs growth in the construction industry and strong safety laws to protect workers.

Construction employment is up 11 percent over the last year and is now at an all-time high for the Buffalo Niagara area. According to big business lobbyists, though, that kind of hiring should not be possible, thanks to the Scaffold Law.

That law holds contractors and owners responsible when they break lifesaving safety rules, but for years, lobbyists have wanted to gut the law so as to shift the blame for construction accidents from those who actually control work sites to the men and women who follow orders and do the work.

Last week’s news makes clear we do not have to sacrifice safety for jobs. That is no surprise. The Scaffold Law has been on the books for more than 100 years, through booms and busts. Nearly every building you see across New York State was built, successfully, under its guidelines.

Putting workers’ lives at risk should never be on the table. As the April jobs report makes clear, it never has to be.

Germain Harnden

Executive Director

Western New York Council on Occupational Safety and Health

Click here to read the letter in The Buffalo News.