In a Westfair Communications on line news feed, an article was written by Mark Lungariello on May 8, 2014, which outlines the New York Construction and business groups attempt to change the Scaffold Law §240 & 241 (6) that was put into effect in 1885.
The groups attack on depriving the injured construction worker’s right to recovery because too many injuries are occurring as construction workers get back to work. The Law was passed in 1885 “when modern construction techniques meant taller buildings” and as a result an increase danger of “high-altitude accidents”. These reasons have not gone away, if anything, with tall buildings getting taller, 100+ floors, there is need to force the construction industry to comply with the Scaffold Law.
The fact that the construction industry’s answer for high premiums should be to deprive the construction worker who is injured as a result of the construction companies’ failure to follow the law is outrageous. The construction industry should be going after the insurance companies for more accountability in setting their premiums. The article points out that Westchester County Association showed 16 out of the largest lawsuit settlements in the state in 2012 were scaffold lawsuits. This is not a reason to deprive these scaffold workers their right to be compensated due to violations of the Scaffold Law. The fact that scaffold cases have large settlement amounts are because the worker sustains horrendous injuries from working at great heights, such as brain damage, loss of limbs, crushing bone injuries, etc. The answers are not to stop laws that enable those workers from collecting for the horrendous injuries.
The Business Counsel of Westchester headed by John Ravitz states in the article “we’re seeing change being done as it has nothing to do with protecting worker safety” which is absolutely wrong. The damage is being done because these workers’ suffer tremendous injuries from the construction companies’ failure to follow the scaffold law. This is exactly why the law should not be reformed because even with the law, scaffold workers sustain injuries worth millions. Gary LaBarbera, President of The Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, in an op-ed in the New York Daily News stated “businesses involved in construction suffer from a Stockholm syndrome of sorts where they believe insurers holding them hostage with absurdly high premiums are their allies…” Instead of taking their fight to the insurers, these businesses rather join the insurance companies’ campaign against the Scaffold Law. This is all reminiscence of the medical malpractice insurers cries. The people who are injured are costing the industry money instead of complying with doctor’s being free from negligence. The insurance companies blame the victims.
Finally, an Assemblyman, Francisco Moya, D-Queens, proposed legislature this year to hold insurance companies more accountable. The law which, like Scaffold Law reform, is unlikely to make its way to the Governor’s desk would require insurance companies to provide specific data to substantiate their construction liability rates. I am sure the insurers of construction companies are not losing money under the present Scaffold Laws and if so, let them prove it!! Go after the money makers not the injured scaffold worker.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a construction accident or a violation of Scaffold Laws, contact the law firm of Dominick J. Robustelli & Associates, PLLC at (914) 288-0800.