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16 March 2015

“Sunshine Bill” Aims To Improve Construction Safety In NY

Queens Assemblyman Francisco Moya gathered with many other advocates of the Scaffold Law earlier this month in support of maintaining the legislation which currently protects many New York construction workers. In addition to rallying support for New York’s Scaffold Law, the event pushed the newly proposed “Sunshine Bill”, which if approved, would shed much-needed light on premiums and claims data for liability insurance in New York’s construction industry. As strong supporters of the Scaffold Law, the Lipsig Firm is happy to see that the Sunshine Bill is gaining traction and support among workers, as well as some builders and contractors in the construction industry.

New York State’s Scaffold Law

The Scaffold Law – sections 240 and 241 of New York State Labor Law – currently protects many construction workers in New York who are injured on the job. Essentially, the Scaffold Law attributes liability to contractors and property owners for any injuries that occur as the result of accidents involving elevated working conditions such as falls from ladders and scaffolding. By ensuring liability for injuries, there exists an incentive for contractors and property owners to provide safe working conditions, as well as proper safety equipment for workers operating at elevated heights.

With well over 2 Million construction workers performing work on scaffolds in the US, it is important to ensure high safety standards on job sites. The added incentive for safety that New York’s Scaffold Law provides is especially important considering the fact that fines for safety violations are only about $13,000 for large construction companies on average.

Opposition To The Law

Although the Scaffold Law is in place to protect our construction workers, there has been much debate recently as many opponents of the legislation are pushing for reform. However, one of the main issues surrounding the law has to do with the fact that there is limited data from insurance companies with regard to pricing and premiums for liability insurance in the construction industry. Enter the Sunshine Bill…

What Is The Sunshine Bill?

The “Sunshine Bill” – as it is commonly referred to – would enact the Construction Insurance Transparency Act of 2015, requiring insurance providers operating under the Scaffold Law to file annual claims data with the State of New York. The lack of data on liability insurance in the construction industry has made it difficult to make informed decisions regarding the current legislation surrounding the Scaffold Law, as well as many other laws that have to do with the construction industry in the State of New York.

According to a statement by Francisco Moya, “The Sunshine Bill will bring much-needed facts and clarity to insurance pricing and practices.” Moya continued, “We cannot amend critical worker safety protections without first shedding light on how insurers calculate liability premiums. We owe it to the thousands of construction workers who risk their lives to build our state’s infrastructure.”

Building A Safer Future In New York

While it is still uncertain whether or not the Sunshine Bill will be approved, there has been increased support over the last few months as was evident in Albany earlier this month. Regardless of approval, if the Scaffold Law is to be reformed, there needs to first exist sufficient data to support the reform. With the data that the Sunshine Bill would require, we will all be able to make the right decisions moving forward to protect the lives of our construction workers.