The Latest Call for New York Scaffolding Law Reform

The New York Scaffolding Law periodically undergoes attack. The law is the only one of its kind in the country and builders and insurers are once again calling for a repeal of the statute.

A recent article in the New York City Real Estate News trade paper detailed the many problems that builders and insurers see with the law. Chief among the problems is that the law keeps the cost of construction insurance extremely high. Adherence to the law can add hundreds of millions of dollars in insurance costs to a construction project such as replacing the Goethals Bridge or Tappan Zee Bridge.

The Real Estate Board of New York has created a special committee to study the law and its effects. Labor unions and trial attorneys support the law, saying it is a valid safety measure that protects workers.

The nuts and bolts of the law

New York Labor Law § 240 embodies the terms of the Scaffold Law. The statute gives detailed protection to workers who fall from great heights and those injured by falling objects. The law exempts owners of one or two family homes.

Under the law, if a worker or other party is injured by the absence of, or a defect of, a safety device, the owner or contractor can be found strictly liable for the injury. The law applies to all types of scaffolds.

Victims who suffer an injury due to an improperly constructed scaffold can bring a claim for their damages.