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Jacobs calls on Cuomo to reform Scaffold Law

By Howard B. Owens

Press release:

Congressman Chris Jacobs (NY-27) sent a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo urging him to include Scaffold Law reform in his next budget proposal. Specifically, Congressman Jacobs called for implementing a comparative liability standard for gravity-related injuries.

“Reforming the burdensome Scaffold Law is long-overdue in New York State," Jacobs said. "As we are staring down a massive budget deficit and a stalled economy, reforming this archaic law is an excellent first step.

"Meaningful reform to the Scaffold Law would unleash our economy, attract new investment into our state, and lower the cost of living for all New Yorkers. We are the last state in the nation to have such a regulation, and there has never been a more urgent time to reform it.”

Currently, New York is the only state in the nation with a liability regime like the Scaffold Law, which imposes an absolute liability standard for gravity-related injuries on construction sites. This has resulted in a projected 8- to 10-percent increase to all construction costs – a cost that is handed down to taxpayers and deters investment in New York State.

For example, complying with the Scaffold Law is expected to add an additional $180 to $300 million to the Gateway Program and added an estimated $400 million to the Tappan Zee Bridge.

Congressman Jacobs introduced the Infrastructure Expansion Act in September. This legislation would exempt federally funded projects from the Scaffold Law and instead require a comparative liability standard for gravity-related injuries. Because the Scaffold Law is a state law, a bill passed by the New York State Legislature and signed into law by Governor Cuomo would be the most direct way to repeal or reform it.

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