States enact labor laws to help protect employees from dangerous conditions and employers who may not be looking out for their best interests. Furthermore, these laws are often designed to ensure if an employee gets injured they can receive compensation to cover medical bills and related expenses. In New York, Labor Law 240 is one such law, but it is a highly controversial law.
According to the New York Times, Labor Law 240, also called the Scaffold Law, puts the absolute responsibility for injures obtained due to falls from high work areas on the employer. The biggest contention over the law is about this absolute responsibility. Employees share no part in the liability, even if they were partial to blame for the accident through not using safety equipment or violating safety rules.
Talisen Construction Corp points out how the Scaffold Law is detrimental to the construction industry in the state. Citing the high cost of insurance, this law is blamed for making it more expensive to undergo a building project, which affects tax payers, clients and the building companies. These expenses have led to a decrease in construction activity. Additionally, the increased liability has led to many insurance companies refusing to offer such insurance coverage because the risks are just too great.
It is suggested that repealing the law or at least limiting liability on the employer could benefit everyone. It could enable a drop in insurance costs while also forcing employees to be more aware of safety on the job site. Changes could renew the industry and help bring more jobs and projects to the state.