Letter: Use Tappan Zee to rid NY of bad law

Traffic flows on the Tappan Zee Bridge from

Traffic flows on the Tappan Zee Bridge from Rockland to Westchester County, in the background, over the Hudson River. (March 13, 2012) Photo Credit: Rory Glaeseman

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While Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's announcement of a panel of artists and architects to review the new Tappan Zee Bridge should be applauded ["New bridge could dazzle," Editorial, Sept. 20], the governor should talk with his own policy experts about how reforming one law could save hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars.

Labor Law 240/241, also known as the scaffold law, holds contractors and property owners (and in this case, the state and taxpayers) automatically liable for elevation-related injuries, even if the worker was intoxicated or ignoring safety training.

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Estimates suggest that this law, which exists only in New York, will add hundreds of millions to the cost of the Tappan Zee Bridge project alone. Statewide, the scaffold law adds millions to the cost of every taxpayer-funded project.

Workers would benefit from thousands of new jobs if the law were reformed. Only trial lawyers stand to benefit from the status quo. While lawyers claim the law improves workplace safety, data from Illinois, which repealed its scaffold law, show that isn't so.

In addition, New York contractors and small businesses pay some of the highest insurance rates in the nation, in part because of this law.

Thomas B. Stebbins, Albany

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Editor's note: The writer is the executive director of the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York, an employer advocacy organization.


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