Times Union: Letter: NY Scaffold Law protects construction workers

Working in the construction field for most of my adult life, I find it revolting that Rep. John Faso, R-Kinderhook, is feverishly working to weaken the Scaffold Law, which protects hundreds of thousands of construction workers from crippling and often-deadly falls.

The law requires contractors and owners to ensure that scaffoldings or other types of elevated work platforms are built in accordance with industry standards. Under current law, the owner/contractor would be liable for a worker’s injury or death from a fall only if upon inspection the work platform was improperly erected. This law does not shield workers who ignore safety rules, as Faso claims.

Faso’s bill would supplant current state law and apply to state public construction projects funded wholly or partially with federal tax dollars. If passed, Faso’s proposal would allow owners and contractors to drag fall victims into court in an attempt to prove they were partly at fault for their injuries, a legal concept called “comparative negligence.” Imagine being a fall victim, ordered to appear in court and then subjected to an onslaught of high-paid corporate lawyers attempting to find any reason whatsoever to shift blame for the fall.

Faso argues that his proposal will lower New York’s liability insurance costs, but it is questionable that insurers won’t shift costs to protect their bottom lines. Faso should spend a week working off a scaffold; then, perhaps, it will make it easier to convince him to jettison his outrageous bill. Faso should respect the state’s safety laws instead of showing contempt for New York’s construction workers and their families.

Frank Natalie


Business agent, United Association of Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 7, Latham

Click here to read the letter in the Times Union.