GCA: The scaffold law doesn’t protect workers, it harms the public

Crain’s New York Business reports on the General Contractor Association’s latest study on construction costs in New York:

New York’s unionized contractors say the state’s current regulatory and management structures don’t work.

The General Contractors Association of New York’s “Deconstructing the Cost of Construction” report tells what the trade group calls “the real story” of the state’s infamously protracted and expensive infrastructure projects, which its members usually build. The top culprits, according to the study, are the state’s “scaffold law” and changing plans and goals for state-led undertakings.

The scaffold law is a longstanding, one-of-a-kind labor statute that imposes absolute liability for any gravity-related injury upon a contractor or owner even if the worker is largely to blame. The GCA echoed longstanding industry complaints that the rule has jacked up risk costs and pushed insurers out of the market. It asserted that the law adds 10% to every construction budget—and as much as $300 million to the proposed overhaul of several Amtrak assets connecting New York and New Jersey, collectively called the Gateway project.

It also reported that insurance costs are 75% higher in New York than in neighboring Connecticut “for the same contractor doing the same type of work with the same workforce.”

“The scaffold law doesn’t protect workers. It harms the public when funds are taken away from building schools and rehabilitating train stations to pay for ever higher insurance costs,” the study reads.

Read the full article here.

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