Scaffold Law

The Story

A state law that dates back to the earliest days of Manhattan skyscraper construction is still on the books and adding millions of dollars in costs to New York State real estate development. The Scaffold Law assigns “absolute liability” for any gravity-related construction accident on the contractor and property owners, regardless of any negligence or fault of the injured worker. The law can make obtaining liability insurance prohibitively expensive, and actually leads to a higher injury rate on job sites. 

The Facts You Need to Know

  1. Liable: The Scaffold Law adds $785 million to the cost of public-works projects in New York State annually. Read more.

  2. Safer: Fatal and non-fatal construction-related falls declined significantly in Illinois after the state repealed a law similar to New York’s. Read more.

  3. Homes: Because of the Scaffold Law, Habitat for Humanity could not obtain liability insurance to cover its volunteers who wanted to rebuild homes destroyed by Superstorm Sandy. Read more.

“Due to the Scaffold Law’s ‘absolute liability’ standard, no insurer would write the policy to cover our volunteers.”

Judith Nelson, President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of New York State

Twitter Take

The Past is Present

The Cost of New York By Steven Malanga (Summer 2014)

“Government overreach is to blame for Bill de Blasio’s tale of two cities.”

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