Reprinted with permission from the Times Union
ALBANY — Congressman John Faso (R –19th)unveiled federal legislation on Tuesday, September 19, that would pre-empt what critics say is a costly, outdated law that leaves property owners and contractors liable for some construction site injuries.
Mr. Faso, a former state Assembly minority leader who worked on the issue while in Albany, is targeting the controversial state Scaffold Law as it applies to projects that utilize federal money.
That law, initially passed in 1885, puts absolute liability for workers’ gravity-related injuries, such as falling from a ladder, on contractors and property owners when it is found that proper safety measures weren’t in place. The Republican’s bill would require that a “comparative negligence” standard be applied for projects using federal funding, allowing courts to consider if workers were even partially at fault if injured in an accident.
The law’s opponents have long griped that absolute liability on property owners and contractors makes insurance for already costly projects both expensive and difficult to find.
“If you use federal dollars, you shouldn’t be able to waste them,” Mr. Faso said at a Tuesday news conference. “And I want to see all the federal dollars go for construction, go for construction jobs. I don’t want them to go for unnecessary construction liability insurance costs.”