Last Tuesday was Scaffold Law Reform Day in the State Capitol. Almost one hundred advocates came to Albany to urge lawmakers to support common sense reform of New York’s outdated and unnecessary Scaffold Law.
The Scaffold Law imposes absolute liability on contractors and property owners engaged in construction, repair, or demolition work for elevation-related injuries. This means that the contributing fault of an injured worker, such as failure to use provided safety equipment or gross negligence, is irrelevant in court. As a result, Because of this, the cost of insuring construction projects is as much as 10 times higher than other states.
Local government leaders, construction companies, property owners and insurers have long sought reform of this law to allow an employee’s negligence (or intentional actions) to be considered in apportioning liability, just as it is in almost every other aspect of our civil justice system. But we’ve been unable to get the Legislature to reform the law, which is supported in its current for by labor unions and trial attorneys.
Scaffold Law Reform Day participants heard from Senator Patrick Gallivan (R- Erie County), who sponsors legislation that would establish a comparative negligence standard for claims. If enacted, the bill would make an employee who directly contributes to his injury liable for the portion of faultassessed by a jury for his own conduct. It’s rarely easy to get anything done in Albany, but New York is the only state that has a law of this nature in place. Sooner or later, we may catch up with the rest of the nation and fix this unfair law.