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Law protecting construction workers causes injuries, study says


When a construction worker is hurt on the job, injuries can often be serious and even fatal. Therefore, it is important that the employer, site owner or contractor provides a safe environment for workers.

For more than 30 years, the "Scaffold Law," which is New York Labor Law Section 240, has been in place to help protect construction workers who are subjected to dangerous risks on the job. The law imposes liability on work site owners and contractors who fail to provide safety devices and regulations to protect workers from construction injuries. New York is the only state to have such a law in place.

Recently, researchers at Cornell University and the University of Albany released a study claiming that the Scaffold Law actually increases construction injuries and diverts public money, about $785 million, from local governments and schools. In addition, the study claims that the cost of the Scaffold Law on the private sector is an estimated $1.487 billion. Annually, this law is estimated to cost between $2.92 and $3.01 billion, calculating in workers' compensation paid out, legal costs and medical costs.

The Executive Director of the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York said that public money should not be wasted on a law that makes sites more dangerous for workers. If a construction worker is injured on the job, the employer or a third party such a contractor or a property owner may be responsible for covering damages from the injuries sustained.

There are active groups in New York calling for reform the Scaffold Law. In the future, whether the law remains the same or undergoes some changes, a legally trained professional may be able to help construction site accident victims understand the legal process in an effort to recover as much compensation and as many benefits as possible from the party responsible for an accident.

Source: WorkersCompensation.com, "Study: New York's 'Scaffold Law' Causes Injuries; ... and Costs Billions," March 5, 2014

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