NYS Labor Law § 240/241
The New York Scaffold Law has been the subject of debate for a number of years. One of the influencing factors is that New York is the only state in the nation to have such a law.
Facts About the New York Scaffold Law
The state legislature passed Labor Law § 240/241 in 1885. The reason given was to “safeguard construction workers who were finding themselves facing increasing dangers while working at ever-greater heights.”
Arguments Against the Law
Opponents argue that the law was passed prior to establishing workers’ compensation laws and before the existence of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). With these newer protections they contend it is outdated and unnecessary. They allege that the law does not hold workers accountable for their contribution to an accident. According to opponents, the Scaffold Law has driven up costs for construction work due to high insurance premiums and is harming the state economically. Contractors face the decision of whether to cut down on the number of workers to save on insurance costs. Opponents seek reform that does away with strict liability and instead implements comparative negligence law. With comparative negligence, courts would assign each party a percentage of fault.
Arguments in Favor of § Labor Law 240/241
Those in favor of the Scaffold Law argue that due to the nature of construction work, even with workers comp and OSHA regulations, workers still face considerable danger and are not adequately protected. Contractors and building owners continue to cut costs and fail to provide adequate safety equipment. OSHA’s fines are not enough of a substantial threat for construction companies to invest in safer working conditions. They would rather pay the fines. Also, they argue that OSHA and the federal government do not have strict enough laws to effectively protect workers.
What to Do if You or a Loved One Is Seriously Injured
Any construction worker who suffers serious injury while working at heights should consult with an experienced accident attorney.
Consultations for evaluating a potential case are free.