Labor Press: Statewide Coalition Defends Scaffold Safety Law

Albany, NY – A diverse group of workers, advocates and organizations committed to protecting construction workers in New York State have joined together to create a unified front in the fight to defend New York’s Scaffold Safety Law from industry-backed efforts to gut the law. The coalition will  push for increased enforcement of New York’s construction safety standards and launched a new website, http://www.scaffoldsafetylaw.org, to aggregate information about the Scaffold Safety Law.

“Construction in New York City can be dangerous work, particularly when done at heights, without owners and contractors providing adequate safety protections.  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.  To which we say let’s open the data from insurers that will allow us to transparently analyze this situation and point us in the direction of solutions to reduce costs while continuing to improve safety.  Legislation introduced in the Assembly and Senate, the Construction Insurance Transparency Act of 2014, will allow for this rational process to occur.  We urge public and private owners and contractors in our industry to join us in supporting it,” said Gary LaBarbera, president of the 100,000 member Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York.
 
The Scaffold Safety Law requires safety equipment and training for construction workers, making New York construction sites among the safest in the country. Under the law, property owners and general contractors, who control the worksite and are in the best position to oversee safety, are responsible for providing protections for their workers. An owner or contractor is not held liable for such accidents unless their failure to provide proper safety equipment caused a worker’s injury.  Liability can be avoided simply by having the proper safety equipment in place. Despite these basic requirements, developers and contractors are trying to avoid responsibility, jeopardizing the safety of their workers.

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