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Scaffolding law survives another legislative session

Despite repeated attacks, New York’s Scaffolding Law has survived yet another legislative session. In fact, while this law continues to come under fire in the media by some lawmakers and certain “pro-business” groups, not a single bill was introduced this year — let alone passed — that would have eliminated this very important construction safety law.

For those who are unaware, the Scaffolding Law — otherwise known as New York Labor Law §240 — was originally enacted in the 1880s to protect construction workers who were working high atop the city’s burgeoning skyline.

Even though this law may have been tweaked a little throughout the years, its current language requires general contractors and property owners to provide construction workers with appropriate safety equipment when they are building, demolishing, repairing or merely painting a building. This includes properly installed scaffolding equipment. Because of this law, workers who are injured in construction falls may be able seek legal recourse against property owners and general contractors for their injuries.

Many opponents of the Scaffolding law claim it makes construction projects more expensive in New York. But even if that were true, are workers’ lives so expendable that they can be sacrificed for the sake of saving a few bucks? Most would agree, their lives are too important to put in needless danger.

Even federal lawmakers are trying to attack it

While New York lawmakers may not have introduced new legislation seeking to change the state’s Scaffolding Law this year, that didn’t stop federal lawmakers from giving it a go. In fact, Rep. John Faso introduced House Bill 3808, otherwise known as the “Infrastructure Expansion Act,” which sought to deny federal funding to construction projects that use New York’s Scaffolding Law.

Fortunately for construction workers, this legislation hasn’t gone very far, yet. We will just have to wait and see if that changes.

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