In today’s Syracuse Post Standard, Business Council of NYS CEO Heather Briccetti writes that the state’s infrastructure spending would go further if the Scaffold Law were repealed.
The Scaffold Law drives up costs on every public and private construction project in the state. The law, which sets forth safety standards for construction, excavation and demolition work, has been expanded by the courts to make contractors and property owners 100 percent liable in lawsuits arising from gravity-related injuries, regardless of fault. The simple adoption of a comparative negligence standard — the standard that applies to all other damage claims in New York state — and which exists in all other states — would drastically cut public and private construction costs by lowering liability insurance cost. As a side benefit of reform, lower cost of coverage will benefit small businesses, including minority- and women-owned enterprises, encouraging them to enter the marketplace and participate in public construction projects. Importantly, this type of reform does not diminish any construction safety rules, and preserves injured workers’ right to file suit, with the courts determining how much each party is at fault.
The Scaffold Law adds unnecessary costs to every public project. The added cost to the new Tappan Zee Bridge alone is $200 to $400 million. This past year, New York City’s School Construction Authority, which builds public schools in the City of New York, saw liability insurance rates triple to $240 million for its school construction projects, thanks to the Scaffold Law. Think of the additional school projects that could be done with these savings.