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Big NYC Landlords Attempting to Water Down Construction Worker Safety Laws

April 25, 2014 Construction Accidents

On behalf of Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP

New York is famed for its high rise skyline. Apart from its famous tall buildings, most New York buildings are high rises. The construction workers who build, maintain, demolish, and renovate these buildings are protected by Section 240 of the New York Labor Law, which is also called the Scaffolding Law.

This law places the onus of construction workers who are working at an elevation on the contractors and owners of the building site, or other parties, but never on the construction worker themselves. According to this law any construction worker who is injured on the job when working at an elevation should be compensated by the contractor and the owner of the site or building.

Financial Consequences

However, various business interests have said that this total absolving of the construction workers in any workplace accident has severe financial consequences. They have claimed that the insurance costs for the construction industry in New York are very high, increasing cost. The NY construction industry—that is now looking at a construction boom—wants the Scaffolding Law repealed or changed to ensure that workers who make mistakes cannot ask their contractors to compensate them for the injuries sustained.

Increased Accidents

In addition to stating the high financial consequences of the Scaffolding Law, the construction industry and their advocates are receiving support from a study conducted by Cornell and Albany University. The study finds that the Scaffolding Law causes more injuries, as workers do not take adequate precautions before starting work at high elevations. The study finds that New York is the only state in the country with such laws. Further, the study explains that public money was diverted to fighting scaffolding cases and that the private sector spends large sums each year in insurance costs, legal expenses, and medical charges because of the Scaffolding Law.


Labor unions and other proponents of the law say that it protects the lives and families of workers who take risks each day to ensure that the New York skyline continues to remain vibrant, but not everyone agrees.

The law ensures that the families of workers who lose their lives at construction sites are compensated and workers who have been injured obtain money for medical treatment and other expenses. They say the law ensures that site owners and construction companies continue to invest in safety measures such as railings, harnesses, and nets to protect the workers.


The opponents of the scaffolding law are mostly construction companies and owners of construction sites. They feel that the law encourages construction workers to take unnecessary risks and injure themselves. Opponents of the law claim that workers who are drunk climb up scaffolding, others do not take adequate precautions when climbing up wet roofs, or they fail to use the safety railings provided.

Albany lawmakers are now expected to debate the Scaffolding Law once again in a bid to assess its efficacy in preventing construction site accidents.

Construction Lawyers

If you have been injured while working construction the New York City construction accident lawyers at Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff can assist you in filing a claim that complies with the Scaffolding Law. Contact our New York City construction accident lawyers today by calling 1-866-516-5887.