In a letter in today’s New York Daily News, Lou Colletti, Co-Chair of the Alliance for Minority and Women Construction Businesses, writes that the Scaffold Law is unfair because it treats safe, conscientious contractors the same as those who are grossly negligent.
Two recent accidents on construction sites in Midtown Manhattan where workers fell to their deaths demonstrate exactly why Local Law 240 — commonly known as the Scaffold Law — does not work in its current form and needs to be reformed.
The current Scaffold Law puts 100% of the blame for an accident on the contractor or owner of a jobsite, no matter what the circumstances are. As a result, a contractor who provides all the necessary safety training and equipment is held just as liable as a contractor who runs a dangerous jobsite and ignores the law and prescribed safety protocols.
At the sites of both of these recent tragedies, the victims weren’t identified for days, because emergency workers couldn’t even find a construction supervisor. The contractors/owners who ran these two jobsites aren’t going to be held more liable or punished more severely than good contractors who run jobsites with all the necessary safety equipment and training.
That is not fair. The scaffold law is costing New York taxpayers billions of dollars in increased insurance costs and liability claims. It’s costing thousands of MWBE jobs and contracts, and increasingly it is costing construction workers their lives. New York is the only state in the country where this type of absolute liability still exists.