New York Daily News: Construction workers and their advocates say New York’s Scaffold Law keeps jobsites safe and they want to see it preserved

Pascual Barrero, 55, has held many hard jobs during his life. When he moved to New York from Mexico 15 years ago, he brought with him the memories of years of poverty, but also the hope for a better future. He found work with a small Queens company and joined the ranks of the state’s 1.5 million construction workers. Then Dec. 5, 2005 came along.

“That day I fell from a ladder while working at a warehouse in the Bronx,” Barrero remembers. “No one was holding the ladder that was old and in bad shape. I had been telling the boss for months to change it, that it was unsafe, but he never paid attention. We never were given safety belts and the tools were in bad shape.”

Barrero’s spine, right foot and right knee were broken and he has not been able to go back to work.

Had it not been for the New York Scaffold Safety Law, Barrero, not a union member, would have been left with no means of support. But under the law property owners and general contractors are responsible for providing protections for their workers. The legislation, which has been in place for more than 100 years, allows construction workers who get injured or killed on the job to sue the companies that hired them. Barrero sued his employer and won a substantial amount.

“Without the scaffold law I don’t know how I would have survived,” Barrero said. Now the law is under attack from the construction industry that is seeking to have it repealed or weakened.

Monday , just in time for International Workers Day, the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) will release a report on construction workplace deaths in New York State. It analyzes the 196 occupational fatalities in 2012. The report’s purpose is to make the case for the preservation of the Scaffold Law as it exists.

Click here to read Albor Ruiz’s full story on the need to protect the Scaffold Safety Law.