New York City construction workers on scaffoldingNew York City construction workers have some of the highest injury rates in the nation and face a high risk of fatalities when working at height. Despite these risks, New York lawmakers are considering repealing a state law protecting workers on scaffolds, making it more difficult for construction workers to file injury lawsuits.

What Construction Workers Should Know About New York’s Scaffold Safety Law

New York is the only state in the nation that has a dedicated Scaffold Law to protect its builders. The Scaffold Safety Law sets guidelines for construction sites to ensure that they are built and maintained for optimal worker safety and is highly favorable to workers who suffer scaffold injuries. The following is a brief overview:

  • What are the pros of the current Scaffold Safety Law? The law has two important protections for workers. First, it dictates that contractors must provide their workers with adequate safety equipment and adhere to all health and safety regulations while elevated work is performed. Second, it gives contractors and property owners “absolute liability” for any elevation injuries on construction sites. This means that injury victims do not have to prove negligence in order to file a lawsuit, and the victim’s own negligence is irrelevant to the case.

  • Why is there an effort to repeal the law? Businesses and lawmakers are working to revise the Scaffold Safety Law due to increased costs of construction within state lines. The Scaffold Safety Law makes it much easier for injured workers in New York to recover in a lawsuit, making lawsuits a frequent and expensive occurrence for developers. As a result, insurance rates for construction projects are several times higher than other states.

  • What happens if the current Scaffold Safety Law is repealed? Lawmakers are proposing legislation that would change the negligence standard for New York construction projects from “absolute” to “comparative.” Under comparative negligence, fault for an injury is assigned by a jury, and damages are reduced in proportion to each party’s fault. If passed, scaffold victims who file injury claims against negligent building owners will be required to prove the owner’s negligence and defend any of his own actions that contributed to the injury.

If you were injured in a construction accident, the experienced New York injury lawyers of Hofmann & Schweitzer can explain your options at no cost to you. Simply contact us online or call us directly at 212.465.8840 to schedule your free initial consultation.


Timothy F. Schweitzer
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Personal injury lawyer specializing in maritime, construction and railroad injury claims.
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