Albany Business Review: Assemblyman says it’s time to talk Scaffold Law reform

Assemblyman John T. McDonald III said with New York state facing a $4.4 billion deficit, this is the time to talk about reforming the Scaffold Law.

“It has to be part of the dialogue,” McDonald said Wednesday.

The law from the 1800s holds contractors and property owners completely responsible in gravity-related construction incidents. Critics say it drives up the cost of construction in New York, including on projects funded with state money, because insurance costs so much more. They say that keeps taxpayer money from going as far as it could.

McDonald, a Democrat of Cohoes, is sponsoring a bill that would allow courts to consider whether and how much a worker was at fault in accidents at worksites.

Sen. Fred Akshar, a Republican of Colesville, introduced matching Senate legislation.

McDonald was hoping Gov. Andrew Cuomo would include Scaffold Law reform in the executive budget released this week. The assemblyman thinks this is the perfect time for the state to take action on the law.

“We know there’s going to be a lot of costs that need to be cut,” he said. “This is one area where we might be able to take some savings that might be real.”

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