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Erie County calls for reform to state labor law


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oneilj - Posted on 13 March 2014

The Erie County Legislature is calling on New York State to reform a 129-year-old outdated New York State labor law that drives up the cost of construction projects and hinders business development. As a result of the Scaffold Law being in place, Erie County and New York State continue to lose business as companies choose to develop in states that don’t impose such restrictions.


At the March 13, 2014 session, Legislators Edward Rath, Kevin Hardwick, Ted Morton and Thomas Loughran, along with Chairman John Mills and Majority Leader Joseph Lorigo, sponsored a resolution requesting that state leaders implement tangible reform measures to remove sections of the often criticized Scaffold Law, which forces strict liability onto construction companies or property owners, unnecessarily driving up the cost of every project. The resolution was approved and certified copies requesting reform were sent to state leaders.


“The Scaffold Law is an outdated regulation that is costing New Yorkers millions of dollars. Our state is the last state to have the strict liability aspect of this law and reform is required to allow any contributory negligence to be factored into injury settlements,” said Legislator Rath, Chairman of the Legislature’s Economic Development Committee. “This law has a deleterious effect on all New Yorkers because it unnecessarily increases the costs on all construction contracts.”


It is estimated that the Scaffold Law adds over $1 billion to taxpayer funded construction projects each year in New York State. As the last state to require strict liability, New York has created an unfavorable climate for businesses. Improved safety regulations have been implemented since the Scaffold Law was created in 1885, making the workplace safer for employees. As such, the need for the Scaffold Law as written is completely unnecessary.


As currently written, the Scaffold Law allows workers injured due to a fall from height to file for, and recover, compensation from their employer even when the employee is entirely at fault. Because of this statute, construction companies and employers must increase their insurance liability coverage, significantly increasing the total cost of projects. As a result, that cost is passed onto taxpayers for publicly funded projects.


To read a copy of the resolution, please CLICK HERE.