OSHA estimates that 65% of construction workers—that’s more than 2 million people—work on scaffolds as a part of their jobs. Of these workers, 4,500 will become injured and 60 will die from scaffolding accidents every year. Sadly, most of these accidents are preventable. With the appropriate safety measures in place, countless lives could have been saved.
When built and used properly, scaffolds give workers a platform to reach difficult locations and store tools needed for their immediate tasks. To access Worcester’s 18 high-rise and countless multistory buildings, window washers, painters, and other maintenance and construction workers rely on scaffolds. We owe it to the workers in our community to keep them safe.
Causes of Scaffolding Injuries
There are several ways that a worker can become injured when working on or around scaffolding. The most common causes of injury are falls from scaffolding, being struck by falling objects while working beneath scaffolding, and scaffolding collapsing.
The majority of scaffolding injuries involve falls from the scaffolding. Although all scaffolds should be equipped with safety nets and guardrails, and all scaffolding workers with personal fall arrest harnesses, companies may cut corners to save time or money. In fact, scaffolding violations are one of OSHA’s top ten most-cited infractions.
Even when the safety devices are in place, it is possible for them to fail, or workers may not have been trained in their proper use. If the scaffold is not constructed correctly, it could become unstable and cause a fall as well.
Tools, equipment, materials, and other objects may fall from scaffolding, striking unassuming workers below. Falling objects can inflict significant injury or even cause death.
In rare cases, the scaffolding may collapse completely, causing serious injury both to the people using the scaffolding and those who are working beneath it.
Scaffolding Accidents Cause Serious Injury
Unfortunately, scaffolding injuries can be severe. A fall from scaffolding may cause broken bones, spinal injury, traumatic brain injury, or worse. These types of injuries can lead to permanent disability, disfigurement, or even death.
Being struck by a falling object is equally serious. If you are struck in the head by an object, you should seek treatment immediately. Blunt force head trauma can cause concussions and lead to the onset of brain swelling (edema), which causes serious health problems and oftentimes death.
Prevention of Scaffolding Injuries
Preventing scaffolding injuries starts with complying with OSHA regulations. Every company, worker, and supervisor with an involvement in scaffolding work must conform with these requirements:
Design and Construction
To meet OSHA scaffolding requirements, scaffolding must be capable of holding its own weight plus at least four times the maximum intended load. Suspension ropes must be able to support at least six times the maximum intended load. Guardrails should be installed on all open sides, and employees working at 10 feet or more above a lower level must be given fall protection. The scaffolding platform must not be cluttered with debris.
Inspection and Maintenance
OSHA also requires employers to properly maintain their scaffolding. They define maintenance as “keeping equipment or a structure in proper condition through routine, scheduled, or anticipated measures without having to significantly alter the structure or equipment in the process. For equipment, this generally means keeping the equipment working properly by taking steps to prevent its failure or degradation.” To ensure that maintenance tasks are completed in a timely manner, OSHA requires periodic inspections of scaffolds.
Protection from Falling Objects
To protect workers from falling objects, OSHA requires that scaffolds be equipped with toe boards, screens, guardrails, catch platforms, nets, canopies, or barricades.
Compensation for Scaffolding Injuries
If you have been injured in a scaffolding accident, you may be able to recover damages for your injuries with a personal injury lawsuit. Worcester construction injury lawyer Peter Ventura has a proven track record of helping injury victims get the compensation they deserve.
When one Worcester industrial worker was struck by falling debris at the job site, suffering aggravation of a pre-existing disc disease, Attorney Ventura was able to recover $500,000 for his client. This case is just one of hundreds of success stories. Will yours be next? Contact us today to arrange your complimentary initial consultation.