Letter: Schools Suffer Under State’s Scaffold Law

In today’s Times Union, LRANY Executive Director Tom Stebbins writes that the Scaffold Law is siphoning critical dollars from our educational system.

New York voters approved the $2 billion “Smart Schools Bond Act” for school construction and technology upgrades. Sadly, much of that money will be wasted due to a law that only exists in New York: Our notorious Scaffold Law.

The law doesn’t really have much to do with scaffolds. What it does is hold contractors and property owners (including schools) absolutely liable in lawsuits for all gravity-related injuries, regardless of contributing fault by the worker. If gravity is involved (which is common here on Earth), the contractor and school are 100 percent liable for an injury, even if the worker was 99 percent responsible.

This seemingly small liability law has a massive price tag with no perceivable safety benefit. Schools are especially hard hit; the New York City School Construction Authority recently had to pay $200 million for just one year of “owner controlled insurance.”

Read the full letter here

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