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Construction & Design

Labor groups defend scaffold law

New York’s construction unions are hitting back against a recent push to modify the law governing liability for safety on construction sites.

Arguing that insurance costs are crippling development and economic growth, a coalition of industry groups, including the New York Building Congress, is lobbying the New York State government to move liability for construction industries off of the developers and onto individual workers.

But the labor unions  recently launched a website to voice their perspective on the issue.

Gary Labarbera, Photo by Alex Kaplan
Gary Labarbera, Photo by Alex Kaplan

“Construction in New York City can be dangerous work, particularly when done at heights, without owners and contractors providing adequate safety protections. We believe the Scaffold Safety Law is an important contributor to having these protections in place and to holding those who control projects accountable for accidents and injuries that occur when they fail to provide such protections,” Gary LaBarbera, president of the 100,000 member Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, said in a statement.

“We do agree that a problem exists in the general liability insurance market for construction projects. Too few insurers are writing policies, the policies they are writing offer less coverage and, on top of that, premiums are increasing – in an industry where all indications are that safety is improving. To which we say let’s open the data from insurers that will allow us to transparently analyze this situation and point us in the direction of solutions to reduce costs while continuing to improve safety.

“Legislation introduced in the Assembly and Senate, the Construction Insurance Transparency Act of 2014, will allow for this rational process to occur. We urge public and private owners and contractors in our industry to join us in supporting it.”

The General Contractors Association of New York, its member companies and real estate partners, has called on Albany to pass  legislation that imposes “comparative negligence” standards in the assessment of liability.

“Comparative negligence protects contractors, workers, real estate developers, insurance companies, taxpayers and all municipalities throughout the state by ensuring a safe, worry-free work environment that creates a fair process when dealing with a worker injury while also dealing with the issues of rising costs,ˮ said the Association.

The labor unions’ new site is http://www.scaffoldsafetylaw.org/

To read the arguments in favor of reform, visit http://www.scaffoldlaw.org/

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