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New York Scaffold Law Protects New York Construction Workers

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Author: Angelo G. Faraci

There is a great deal of misinformation concerning the New York Scaffold Law. The Insurance and Business Community are wrong when they say that construction workers who are "lax about wearing safety gear" and fall from a height and are injured can hold their employer liable under New York Labor Law Section 240, the "scaffold law." The Court of Appeals ruled definitively in /Cahill v. Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority/ that if a worker has been informed about and given safety equipment and fails to use it "for no good reason," the employer cannot be held liable under the scaffold law for any resulting injuries.

Indeed, under the scaffold law, if a worker is the sole cause for whatever reason of his or her injury, the owner or general contractor cannot be held liable. An owner or general contractor can be held liable for a worker's injuries only if their failure to provide appropriate safety equipment for work at an elevated height, like harnesses and properly constructed scaffolding, was the cause of the injuries.

The authors are also wrong when they blame rising contractor liability insurance on the scaffold law. In recent years, contractor liability insurance premiums have risen just as fast or even faster in many states - and in some countries - that have no scaffold law. In the United Kingdom, contractors report that liability insurance hikes of up 300% and more are putting many of them out of business.

Enforcement of construction safety by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been weak and ineffective. Without the scaffold law, the numbers of construction worker injuries and deaths in New York would surely be greater.

About the author

Angelo G. Faraci is the founding partner of Faraci Lange, one of Western New York's leading personal injury firms. He can be reached at (585) 325-5150 or info@faraci.com. You can also visit us at www.faraci.com.


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