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What you need to know about New York’s Scaffold Law

The New York Scaffold Law (Labor Law 240) makes New York an unappealing location for prospective builders. The law holds employers and property owners liable to cover the charges imposed from gravity-related falls when employees work from high-elevations without the proper safety equipment. The law was set up in 1885 and is the only state law nationwide that makes the employee and property owner 100% liable in gravity-related injury cases.

Below are 5 more facts tied to New York’s scaffold law to be aware of:

  1. The law is a proven disincentive: Employers want their staff to be safe and understand how to properly perform the work, but why should they invest mass amount of money into construction site safety and training when no amount will reduce the liability costs associated with a gravity-related fall?
  2. Increased risk: The Scaffold Law has increased the rate of injury or death due to a fall by 5.5 people per 1,000 workers.
  3. The law often doubles the insurance costs of public work building proposals: If a community votes to construct a facility that will cost $2 million, they often aren’t aware that half of that money is going toward protection in case they become liable for a gravity-related fall.
  4. Wasted funds: According to the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, money wasted on the Scaffold Law could be wisely redirected to create thousands of jobs and boost New York’s economy by over $150 million.
  5. You are paying for it: Every taxpayer in New York City pays for the Scaffold Law – totaling $785 million taxpayer dollars annually.

A proposed adaptation to the law has included a change from absolute liability to comparative negligence, which would allow contractors to defend themselves in court when necessary. Actions to reform the law and allow contractors voices to be heard are underway in all New York districts.

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