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  4.  » Scaffold Law Helps Prevent Construction Accidents and Keep Workers Safe

Scaffold Law Helps Prevent Construction Accidents and Keep Workers Safe

The New York lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy have been paying attention to the ongoing dialogue on New York’s Scaffold Law. New York’s Scaffold Law has been instrumental in assuring that construction workers are provided a safe place to work for more than a century. The law places the responsibility on the building owners and general contractors at a construction site to make sure that workers have the necessary safety tools and equipment to successfully and safely perform their work. If the building owners and general contractors fail to comply with the safety requirements outlined in the law and that failure caused a construction worker to be injured or killed then they are legally responsible for the loss. What are we talking about? A roofer is compelled to work on a roof and is not given any fall protection by anyone at the job site. He falls 30 feet and is paralyzed as a result of the fall. The failure to provide the worker with the appropriate fall protection will likely trigger a finding that the parties in charge of safety at the job site are responsible for this workers injuries. Seems fair, no?

What motive would anyone have to compel someone to work without the proper safety equipment or in unsafe work conditions? Usually it revolves around time. It is faster to ignore simple things like fall protection so you can complete the job faster. The expression ‘time is money’ is entirely appropriate. Why might a worker not demand the right equipment? Many fear that they will lose their job or get a less lucrative assignment next time if they voice their complaints. Others have little or no training and are wholly unaware of what safety equipment may be available.

Nobody in this country, or anywhere, should be faced with a life or death decision at work

merely to pay their bills and put food on the table.

Worker safety has to be paramount even if it means taking more time to complete the work. The law intends to keep workers safe. Does the law work? Well New York State – the epicenter of construction and expansion for the entire world – has the 5th lowest construction injury rate in the country. That is, in part, because the Scaffold Law provides a powerful incentive for contractors and property owners to make worksites safe.

Nevertheless, a recent study was published by The Buffalo News that, at best, is head-scratching. The “study”, among other things, dubiously claimed that the Scaffold Law placed construction workers at higher risk of injury. It didn’t seem to make senses and certainly defied the experiences of most common-sense people. Now we know why. . . .

First, the study recklessly compared the injury rates in the construction industry to much safer jobs in an attempt to assess the viability of the Scaffold Law. More importantly and most revealing is that the study was paid for by a group that is closely aligned with opponents of the law. They actually share office space with a group that has vigorously fought to repeal the law for decades. What were the authors paid to commission this so-called independent study? $80.000. The authors of this study were paid $80,000 to come up with results that comported with the theories forwarded by opponents of the law. Fair? Unbiased? Independent? What a croc! This is an embarrassing development; a submission I suspect The Buffalo News wishes it researched more carefully.

The Scaffold Law has proven to keep workers safe. The attempts at repealing the law are clearly to further line the pockets of insurance companies and wealthy developers. They are advocating reducing worker safety so they can make more money. The methods they pursue to achieve this agenda are staggering. Obviously paying for a study that employs flawed premises and then releasing it as an independent and academic study has little to do with what is truthful and fair.

Block O’Toole & Murphy is a law firm that prides itself on protecting construction workers. We fight for injured workers and their families inside and outside of the courtroom. Our results include more than $750,000,000 on behalf of injured victims, including many verdicts and settlements for injured construction workers. To learn more about the construction accident lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy, you can review the firm website at For a free consultation, please call 212-736-5300.

Source: Buffalo News