top of page

The video states numerous facts supporting the repeal of the “Scaffold Law”. 



It costs more to build infrastructure projects in New York than anywhere else in the world.¹ A mile of subway in NYC costs $3.1B versus $928M in American cities like San Francisco, or $400M in similarly dense cities like Tokyo.

Insurance costs on the Second Avenue Subway ballooned from $93M to $554M, a rise blamed on the Scaffold Law.²

The Scaffold Law is estimated to have added $200M - $400M to the cost of the Mario Cuomo bridge.³

Liability costs on one joint New York/New Jersey bridge project are more than double on the New York side, strongly suggesting that state laws, not construction costs, are to blame for the cost increase.⁴

Across the state, the Scaffold Law is estimated to add over $785M in annual costs to public projects.5

On a per project basis, the Scaffold Law is estimated to add an additional 7% to large-scale construction projects.6

The Scaffold Law hinders disaster relief, as evidenced by Habitat for Humanity and several other non-profits struggling to get insurance for rebuilding projects in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.



Most national insurers will not write construction policies in New York and some of the few remaining insurers have stopped writing policies in the last few years.7

Insurance availability threatened the Owner-Controlled Insurance Program of the New York School Construction Authority (SCA) which provides insurance to over 800 M/WBE firms.8



The New York School Boards Association estimates that the Scaffold Law costs upstate schools $200M annually.

In 2013, the New York School Construction Authority was nearly unable to get insurance for its $2 billion capital program, despite an excellent safety record. The new insurance costs are $240M for 2014, nearly triple that of the previous year.9

The SCA’s increased insurance costs are equivalent to 8-10 new schools over a 3-year period.10



The problematic absolute liability of the Scaffold Law is not written into the original law. Rather, it is the result of judicial interpretation, suggesting that this was not the original legislative intent.

The number of Scaffold Law cases has increased 500% since 1990, despite a drop in overall construction injuries.11 A contributing factor to these claims is the compensation arrangement of plaintiff’s attorneys. Suspect and often frivolous claims would not be pursued but for the absolute liability provision of the law.


 Public Support

Progressive Speaker of the New York City Assembly, Corey Johnson, called for repealing New York’s Scaffold Law in his plan to fix the MTA.12

Over half of the state’s county governments have passed resolutions supporting the reform or repeal of the state’s Scaffold Law.13

New York is the only remaining state that has a law like the Scaffold Law. Illinois repealed its Scaffold Law in 1995, and construction-related fatalities decreased by 26% over 5 years.14

  1. Bradford, Ben, “Why are Subways in the U.S. so expensive?”, Marketplace, National Public Radio, April 2019.

  2.  “Critics blame Scaffold Law for megaproject’s insurance costs ballooning 557%”, Crains New York Business, August 2018. for-megaproject-s-insurance-costs-ballooning-557

  3. Estimate by Willis of New York.

  4. According to claims data provided by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

  5. Hattery, M, Geddes, R, and Kay, M. "The Costs of Labor Law 240 on New York's Economy and Public Infrastructure”, Rockefeller Institute of Government, 2013. Public-Infrastructure.pdf

  6. “Scaffold Law Bumped This Project’s Insurance Tab by 557 Percent”, Habitat Magazine, August 2018.

  7. Bull, David. "Nationwide E&S pulls back from NY construction." The Insurance Insider, 2018.

  8. Grillo, Lorainne, letter to all NYCSCA contractors, July 2013.

  9. Gieger, Dan. "School Construction Authority Hit With Huge Bill", Crain's New York Business, 2013.

  10. Office of NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. "The Pre-K Crunch: How NYC Parents Struggle to Find Pre- Kindergarden Slots." 2013.

  11. Hattery, M, Geddes, R, and Kay, M. "The Costs of Labor Law 240 on New York's Economy and Public Infrastructure”, Rockefeller Institute of Government, 2013.

  12. Campanile, Carl, “Corey Johnson targets Scaffold Law in his plan to fix the MTA”, New York Post, March 2019. 

  13. New York State Association of Counties, “NYSAC Standing Committee on Employee Relations, Resolution #1”, 2016

  14. United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries

bottom of page