Cuomo Should Push To Reform Scaffold Law

To The Reader’s Forum:

As Gov. Cuomo seeks to rebuild New York’s infrastructure, relieve our municipalities from crushing mandates, and create jobs, he should push for a reform that provides all three. That is New York’s antiquated scaffold law. Businesses, contractors, municipalities, and taxpayer’s across the state are asking the governor to support reform of the scaffold law, an outdated law that holds employers and contractors absolutely liable for worksite injuries, even if they were not predominantly at fault.

The scaffold law exists only in New York, and is the reason why contractors here pay the highest rates in the country for workers compensation insurance. Every dollar spent on insurance is one less dollar available for hiring workers and providing for their benefits.

It’s not just contractors and property owners who are impacted by this law. Our school districts and local governments are similarly under threat. The largest scaffold law case in 2012 was against a school, and one of largest scaffold law cases in the past few years was against a municipality.

When the state gets sued, taxpayers are forced to foot the bill. In the recent Kin vs. State of New York case, the court ruled against the state, even though the plaintiff used the wrong equipment. In any other state, the use of improper equipment would factor into the judgment, but because of New York’s scaffold law, the state will be held fully liable.

The governor has a rare opportunity to improve our economy, remove expensive mandates and save the state money all at no cost. We urge the governor to support scaffold law reform and bring New York in line with every other state. This year Sen. Gallivan has sponsored Senate Bill 111 proposing scaffolding law reform and we are happy to say our local senator, Cathy Young, has signed on as a cosponsor. The passage and signing of Senate Bill 111 by Gov. Cuomo will go a long way in reforming this outdated, unreasonable and costly law.

Brad Walters


Executive Director

Southern Tier Builders Association