**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 16, 2017**
Contact: Adam Morey
ALBANY ASSEMBLYMEMBER INTRODUCES BILL TO FIX
NEW YORK’S ARCANE SCAFFOLD LAW
Proposed legislation will provide “significant savings” for local governments,
and “not weaken the law’s safety provisions”
ALBANY – Backed by the 75 member Scaffold Law Reform Coalition, Assemblymember John McDonald (D-Cohoes) has introduced A.5624, a concise and comprehensive bill aimed at modernizing the liability rules under the state’s Scaffold Law.
According to the memo accompanying the bill, the legislation “will provide much needed relief to school districts, counties, and local governments by lowering their liability exposure and creating significant savings on all infrastructure construction projects in New York State.”
“Most importantly,” the memo concludes, the proposed reform “would not weaken the law’s safety provisions.”
A.5624 applies New York’s existing negligence standards to lawsuits brought under the only-in-New York Scaffold Law. Judges currently apply “absolute liability” to these filings, a standard unique to the Scaffold Law, which faults only the property owner and contractor for worksite accidents, regardless of the contributing conduct of the worker.
“I see very quickly that New York State is losing its competitive advantage,” Assemblymember McDonald said as he addressed the attendees of the Scaffold Law Reform Coalition’s annual lobby day in Albany on Tuesday.
“I represent Albany and Troy and Cohoes and Watervliet; these are communities that have a lot of blighted buildings. It’s hard work to repair and fix. And quite frankly, liability insurance plays a large overriding factor in driving up that cost. I want to get things done, and I want to do it safely. When the scaffold law was formed, OSHA and PESH – they weren’t acronyms then. They weren’t there to be the safeguards and the protectors,” McDonald later said in an interview with POLITICO New York.
Scaffold Law reform is supported by a diverse coalition including Habitat for Humanity, the Business Council of New York State, the New York Conference of Mayors, New York State Association for Affordable Housing, New York State Farm Bureau, Associated General Contractors, Unshackle Upstate, National Federation of Independent Businesses, the Manufacturers Association, New York State School Boards Association, and chambers of commerce across the state.
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