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Scaffold Law provides protection for workers

On Monday, we observed Workers’ Memorial Day, in remembrance of those who have died on the job in the last year. In almost every case, a death or a serious injury could have been prevented if proper protections were in place.

The tragic case of Anthony Grasso is a sad reminder of the importance of workplace safety rules like the Scaffold Law – rules that are now under attack from corporate lobbyists.

Grasso, a former carpenter from Tonawanda, fell 14 feet through a hole covered by flimsy, unsecure particle board, paralyzing him permanently from the waist down. Because of this needless safety lapse, Grasso has had three spinal surgeries and will need several more. He will likely never walk again, but because of the Scaffold Law, which protects those who work from dangerous elevations, he will see some measure of justice. His medical costs and his lost wages will be covered because he was able to have to his day in court.

Despite such tragedies, lobbyists for the construction industry like Thomas Stebbins (“Reforming Scaffold Law should be a top priority” April 12 News) are trying to eliminate laws that require crucial safety equipment be provided at every work site.

Protections such as the Scaffold Law have helped make New York a leader in construction site safety. The law simply requires those who own and control construction sites to provide life-saving equipment and training. Contractors who follow those common-sense rules cannot be held liable for accidents, despite what lobbyists claim.

The laws that protect workers should be strengthened, not watered down.

Germain Harnden

Director, Western New York

Council on Occupational Safety

and Health, Buffalo