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Assembly member urges rejection of Scaffold Law "reform"

New York State’s Scaffold Law has repeatedly been targeted by business interests for elimination that is often mislabeled as "reform." They argue that the law drives up construction costs and makes it more difficult for women and minorities to get into construction work, Assembly member Phil Steck wrote recently in Albany's Times Union.

He argues in an op-ed piece that corporate America has been waging war on safety laws that it claims slow economic growth. Steck writes that the evidence shows that the Scaffold Law does not deter business at all. When a developer talks of a new project, there is no shortage of construction firms eager to bid on the work, he notes.

At its core, the law requires construction firms to supply their workers with appropriate, needed safety gear and to direct workers how to use it. If an employer fails to do that, and a worker is injured in a fall (or by a falling object), the owner of the firm is liable.

If a worker doesn't follow safety instructions, the law also provides the employer with a defense to liability. The worker cannot recover damages in those cases, Steck writes.

He also notes that the law is clear and provides no loopholes for construction firms to use to dodge responsibility if they fail to provide safety equipment. "And that is as it should be," he points out.

He concludes his opinion piece with a warning that if the Scaffold Law is "reformed," it will be taxpayers who will foot the bill. Insurance companies will "save by paying out less to injured workers" and those workers (often disabled because of a fall) will be forced to rely on government programs.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a fall on a construction site, speak with an attorney who can help you receive full workers' compensation benefits and discuss with you other legal options, including personal injury litigation.

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