How much is New York's Scaffold Law costing taxpayers?

Mar 8, 2019

A coalition of business leaders is calling on Albany to reform the state's Scaffold Law.

Buffalo Construction Exchange Executive Director Joe Benedict
Credit Chris Caya WBFO News

Joe Benedict is the Executive Director of the Buffalo Construction Exchange, in Cheektowaga. The group  represents 900 companies in the local construction industry.

Benedict says since the Scaffold Law was signed in the 1800s, other laws have been enacted to protect workers. He says the old law is hurting state taxpayers who are footing the bill for local projects including the $31 million Jefferson Avenue affordable homes project.     

 "$1.8 million of that are additional insurance premiums because of the Scaffold Law. The $750 million Solar City project, at least $37 million in taxpayer money because of the Scaffold Law. So there's two projects right there - $40 million. That doesn't mean the insurance for those projects was $40 million. That means the insurance was $40 million higher because of the Scaffold Law," Benedict said.  

The group says the Scaffold Law drives up insurance costs for projects 5-6%. Teresa Bianchi, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity Buffalo says, it's hurting nonprofit housing developers.

Teresa Bianchi, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity Buffalo
Credit Chris Caya WBFO News

"For Habitat, every extra dollar that we spend on insurance is another dollar that I can't put towards building an affordable house for a Buffalo family. Nobody wants that. We need more affordable housing in Buffalo not less," Bianchi said.    

Unshackle Upstate Executive Director Michael Kracker says the outdated law makes New York state the most expensive place in America to build. Kracker says common sense reform will significantly improve the state's business climate.