NYSTLA is engaged in an important effort to prevent Congress from passing a bill that would bar the applicability of New York's Scaffold Safety Law (Labor Law section 240) for construction projects that receive federal funds.
The bill, H.R.3808, the Infrastructure Expansion Act, sponsored by Congressman Faso, is scheduled to be voted on January 30th, 2018. The bill is an attempt to force New York courts to ignore New York's Scaffold Safety Law, an important New York law that protects construction workers. Co-sponsors include Congressional Representatives Collins, Stefanik, Tenney and Reed.
The bill’s approach implies that “Washington knows best” while trampling on New York's right to regulate responsibilities among owners, contractors and workers for construction within its borders.
H.R.3808 is based on misinformation and incorrect assertions -- as well as a fundamental misunderstanding of what New York’s Labor Law 240 does. As NYSTLA members know, Labor Law 240 establishes that owners and contractors are responsible to ensure that proper safety equipment is in place to prevent elevation-related injuries, and workers must in turn use that equipment. Both must follow the law.
Labor Law 240 rightly recognizes that the owner/contractor has control of site safety; since the risks of elevation work are life-threatening, they must ensure that proper safety measures are in place.
Arguments about insurance costs are completely unsupported, and there is a bill in the New York State Legislature, the Scaffold Sunshine Law, that would require disclosure of the real basis for insurance premiums.
Stopping H.R.3808, which is currently being considered by the House Committee on the Judiciary, is an imperative.
The federal government should not interfere with the State's ability to protect workers. NYSTLA is working in coordination with labor and worker safety advocates, the national American Association for Justice and others to fight this ill-advised and inappropriate legislation.
Thank you for your dedication to civil justice.
Matthew A. Funk
New York State Trial Lawyers Association
For more information please contact NYSTLA’s Legislative Director, Suzanne Mattei, at (212) 349-5890 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.