Scaffold Safety Law is not the problem

Year after year, we see efforts to repeal the Scaffold Safety Law, as reported in the article “Renewed calls to ditch Scaffold Law,” Sept. 30. The argument is always the same: dollars over lives.

The fact is construction workers are doing some of the most dangerous jobs in America. Those who place costs over the safety, health and well-being of workers should be ashamed of themselves.

This year, perhaps out of desperation, business and government groups make quite possibly their lamest argument ever that falling from a 10-story building and crashing to the pavement is somehow not enough of an incentive for a worker to protect themselves. If that’s their argument, they should bury their heads in shame.

The article notes that those pushing to repeal the law want to prevent “special interests” from holding state and local government budgets hostage. What they are really trying to do is protect their own financial interests, which is the very definition of "special interests."

Rather than eliminate worker safety protections, we should require insurance companies to show the public how they calculate their premiums. Contractors should provide safe workplaces. When they do, insurance companies should reduce premiums. The Scaffold Safety Law is intended to stop preventable workplace injury and death merely by requiring contractors and project owners to ensure necessary safety equipment is provided and utilized. It’s a law that saves lives.

Mario Cilento
President, New York State AFL-CIO