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Letter: Scaffold Law protects construction workers

Scaffold Law protects construction workers

I used to be a cement worker in Buffalo. That is, until the day I was in an elevator shaft in the Hollings Press Building when a plank fell down the shaft and broke my neck. There was no safety equipment in place to protect me.

I’ll never be able to walk again, but because of the Scaffold Law, I’m not a burden to taxpayers or charities, and I’m able to contribute to my community.

The Scaffold Law says that when construction workers are injured because the owner or general contractor failed to provide statutory safety equipment, the owner or general contractor is legally responsible. The accident that changed my life forever could have easily been prevented if the proper equipment had been in place and had common-sense safety rules been followed.

By holding contractors accountable for safety, the Scaffold Law helps keep accidents like mine to a minimum. Now, Albany lobbyists for insurance and construction companies are trying to get rid of the law. They claim that workers who ignore safety rules are winning “jackpot lawsuits.” It’s untrue and outrageous. Contractors can only be held accountable if they fail to comply with the statute.

The real Scaffold Law victims are guys like me – people who were hurt because of unsafe practices on a construction project that violated the law, and who would trade any “jackpot” in the world to get their lives and their bodies back.

We shouldn’t be talking about weakening a law that is meant to make the workplace safe. We should be talking about making the workplace safer, so accidents like mine don’t happen. Don’t mess with safety. Keep the Scaffold Law in place.

Dan D’Andrea