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Lobbyists want change to construction safety regulations

Construction sites can be dangerous and deadly places to work. A workplace accident at a construction site in New York can lead to serious injuries just because of the nature of the heavy equipment often found on such sites. Add the element of height, such as being on a scaffold, and these risks increase even more.

When there is such a high risk, the likelihood of an injury increases. To minimize risk as much as possible, safety regulations have been enacted to keep workers safe when they are working high off the ground. Furthermore, the laws ensure that employers are held responsible for workplace accidents so that injured workers get the compensation they deserve after an accident.

These so-called scaffold laws place complete liability on employers when an injury occurs because of a fall at a construction site. This can be a fall from a scaffold, but also from other high surfaces including a ladder, pulley or rope.

Recently, a group of lobbyists, including the National Federation of Independent Businesses, went to Albany to try and change these laws. They are calling for less liability on the part of employers.

According to the group, employers should not be held responsible for falls in certain situations. This includes circumstances in which the employee is committing a crime or arriving to work intoxicated. The group is also arguing that these laws are so burdensome that they increase the cost of doing business in New York.

Scaffolding laws protect vulnerable employees who become injured on the job. These protections serve a valuable purpose in New York. Before enacting changes to these laws, the legislature should carefully consider the ramifications.

Source: New York Now, "Why business groups want to dismantle New York's scaffold law," Marie Cusick, April 19, 2012

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