Construction Exchange Joins Coalition Calling on Governor to Reform Scaffold Law to Help Close Budget Deficit

Following the introduction of federal legislation aimed at fixing New York’s notorious Scaffold Law by Rep. Chris Jacobs (R-Buffalo), the Buffalo Niagara Partnership and Construction Exchange of Buffalo and Western New York today joined a diverse coalition of organizations in calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to include language to fix the costly statute in next year’s Executive Budget proposal.

“Fortunately, there is an easy fix to a state law that would annually free up millions of dollars in state and municipal budgets, save hundreds of millions in infrastructure costs, and preserve an estimated two hundred million dollars a year in funding for education across the state,” states the letter signed by nearly fifty advocacy groups, including the Minority & Women Contractors & Developers Association, New York Conference of Mayors, and New York State Farm Bureau.

Citing the current budget crises caused by the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, the letter urges Governor Cuomo to “put New York’s liability laws in line with every other state and every other country in the world. Fix Labor Law 240, also known as the Scaffold Law. Use the budget process to change the standard from the current, outdated absolute liability standard to a more equitable and modern comparative negligence standard.”

Dottie Gallagher, President & CEO, Buffalo Niagara Partnership, said, “There is opportunity in crisis.  The fiscal crisis resulting from COVID-19 is an opportunity for New York State to finally follow 49 other states and fix our expensive, antiquated, and burdensome Scaffold Law.  Replacing our current backward Labor Law 240/241 with the fair and reasonable standard that exists in every other state in the nation will help send a clear message that in a time of economic upheaval, New York State is truly open for business and serious about creating jobs.”

Joe Benedict, Executive Director, Construction Exchange of Buffalo & WNY, said, “We are on the brink of a fiscal crisis in New York State. There are many difficult and painful decisions that lie ahead. Our elected officials must consider expensive, special interest-driven mandates, like New York’s Scaffold Law, as they look for ways to fund programs that our communities rely on. Scaffold Law does not make jobsites safer and it costs New York taxpayers millions of dollars each year. Now is the time to reform this outdated and costly law.” The Scaffold Law, also known as Labor Law 240/241, imposes absolute liability on contractors and property owners, including municipalities and other publicly funded entities, for worksite accidents. In the words of former Court of Appeals Judge Robert Smith, under the Scaffold Law, “a defendant may be liable to a worker who may have been primarily at fault.”

Click here to view the letter sent to Governor Cuomo.

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