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Ingram Yuzek Gainen Carroll & Bertolotti, LLP

If You Build It:
News for Design & Construction Professionals

New York’s 128-year-old “Scaffold Law” Lives On

Published by ​Jessica Rothman on June 20, 2013

This week in Albany, representatives and supporters of the building and construction industry failed to level the playing field between contractors and workers in the 128-year-old Scaffold Law.

The law, enacted in 1885, currently holds property owners and contractors liable for ‘gravity-related injuries’ at construction sites, even when the worker bears some responsibility for the accident. Under the existing law, if a construction worker using scaffolding or a ladder is injured, the burden is on the contractor to prove the job site was safe.

The proposed changes by building and construction proponents added new language requiring juries to also consider workers’ actions when weighing injuries in court.

Opponents of the changes argued that reforming the law would eliminate the incentive for contractors and owners to keep job sites safe and impose too great a burden on workers who are not able to control conditions on a job site.

Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver killed the proposed changes, which will not be considered before the legislature adjourns on June 20. 

The law of 1885 lives on.


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