Letter: Law helps to protect construction workers

The Buffalo News
Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Law helps to protect construction workers

I am somewhat baffled by The News editorial, “Out-of-date legislation is expensive without making workers any safer,” which severely critiques New York’s common-sense scaffolding safety law. As someone who lives in a large city, with busy sidewalks and streets and active high-rise and renovation construction in densely populated areas, I am extremely grateful for this law.

New York’s law ensures that owners and contractors are exclusively responsible for limiting hazards like unsound scaffolding, ladders and other equipment, as well as flooring and elevators. This is hardly unreasonable. They control safety conditions at a construction site, not workers.

Notably, the law has been watered down by courts over the years, making it easier for owners and contractors to escape accountability. Even so, without the law, the obligation of owners and contractors to ensure a safe work site would be substantially weakened.

If insurance companies are price-gouging businesses over this law, the solution to that problem lies with the insurance industry and better insurance regulation, and should not be solved on the backs of the very workers the law was meant to protect.

Joanne Doroshow
Executive Director
Center for Justice & Democracy
New York City

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