County Stand Sought on Scaffold Law

In today’s Rome Sentinel, Dan Guzewich reports on recent efforts to engage county legislators in the fight for Scaffold Law reform.

Oneida County legislators are being lobbied to take a position next year urging reform of the state’s Scaffold Law, which makes property owners and contractors liable for most “gravity-related” injuries to workers on construction sites.

William Gaetano of Utica-based Charles A. Gaetano Construction Corp. spoke at the Republican and Democratic legislative caucuses last week to explain that the Board of Legislators will be asked to take a stand against the current law after the state Legislature begins its new term in January. He left several handouts for the lawmakers.

Past efforts to change law have failed, with labor unions and trial lawyers pushing back against reform attempts. A coalition of contractors and other groups seeking to change the law is planning another run at it next year.

Builders and developers claim the 1885 law adds millions of dollars in costs to construction projects. It requires another layer of general liability insurance for contractors and hits taxpayers by adding to the cost of public projects. For example, building groups estimate that the required liability insurance premiums will add an extra $390 million to the $4 billion replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge on the New York Thruway.

“So somebody’s going to have to pay for it,” Gaetano told the GOP caucus

The state law has remained long after other states abandoned similar laws, replaced by less costly federal workers’ compensation insurance.

Read the full article here

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