Letter criticizing Scaffold Law misstates legislation’s intent

Buffalo News
Saturday, April 24, 2021

In his April 11 Letter to the Editor, Tom Stebbins, who runs a corporate lobby group in Albany, says that marijuana legalization in New York should prompt lawmakers to drastically weaken one of the state’s most important worker safety laws. This is ridiculous.

New York’s “Scaffold Law,” the target of Stebbins ire, was enacted over a century ago following a large number of deaths and injuries at construction sites. The law makes contractors and owners of construction sites responsible for providing protections for their workers and ensuring safe worksites. If a contractor or owner does not provide required protections and a worker is injured or dies as a result, the law holds contractors and owners strictly liable.

Yet under current law, liability is not 100%, despite what Stebbins states. As long as a contractor/owner provides proper protections, they are not liable for an accident caused solely by a worker’s negligence (e.g., being high at work.)

New Yorkers have relied on the incredibly successful Scaffold Law to ensure safe worksites for well over a century. Lawmakers should not touch it.

Joanne Doroshow
Executive Director
Center for Justice & Democracy
Americans for Insurance Reform

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