As published in Crain’s New York Business By: Jessica Ramos & Gary LaBarbera

January 17, 2019 12:00 AM

To the editor:

The report published by the General Contractors Association—“Contractors blame scaffold law, bureaucracy for public-works costs” (—relies entirely on unsubstantiated and unsourced data to rail against the scaffold safety law, an extremely effective labor protection in place for New York construction workers.

The construction industry is booming across New York, and business is better than ever for contractors. Meanwhile, worksite inspections are on the decline. The reality is if an employer or contractor equips construction workers with the necessary safety equipment and provide a safe work environment, the employer or contractor will not be held liable.

If the construction industry were truly interested in a good-faith effort to lower insurance costs, it would support legislation requiring greater transparency from insurers. Instead, some contractors have teamed up with insurers to try to roll back one of the only remaining layers of accountability against negligent and dangerous employers.

The stakes are too high to put lives at risk. We must not allow a small group of powerful special interests to peel back critical safety protections for workers and put them at an ever greater risk. The insurance industry needs to open its books so we can have an honest discussion.

Jessica Ramos & Gary LaBarbera

Ramos is a state senator from Queens and chairwoman of the Senate Labor Committee. LaBarbera is president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York.