When Scaffolding Gives Way
Scaffolding failure can cause serious, potentially lethal injuries. When falls from height occur, a workers’ comp lawyer can help investigate the causes of the failure and pursue claims to help injured workers recover.
Scaffolding Accidents in the US
Over 2 million construction workers utilize scaffolding every year. This places a considerable number of people at risk of serious injury. Falls from height are regularly listed among OSHA’s “Fatal Four” causes of construction-related fatalities.
Approximately 72% of workers injured in scaffolding accidents are the result of planking, support failures, slipping from the scaffold, or objects falling from the scaffold and striking workers working or walking below. Nationwide, there are an average of 4,500 scaffold-related injuries and 60 fatalities every year. While these numbers have declined significantly since the 1970’s, scaffold failures remain a leading cause of construction site injuries and fatalities in the United States.
Causes of Scaffold Failures & Injuries
Scaffolding can fail if it is improperly erected. Scaffolds must be properly constructed and secured to the structure in order to withstand the weight of workers and equipment. The scaffold must also be properly secured to the structure to withstand wind forces. If the scaffolding structure is not properly erected and secured, shifts in the wind or changes in the loading can cause the structure to collapse without warning.
Falls from scaffolding frequently occur because safety rails are not installed or because workers are not equipped with reliable safety harnesses. Workers can also fall if they improperly trained in the use of these harnesses, or if they are not trained in the methods required to work and stay safe on scaffolding. This includes training in how to free the scaffold of debris, moisture, and other hazards that can impede safe movement on the structure.
Falling debris is another leading cause of scaffold-related injuries and fatalities. When construction materials and tools are not properly secured on the scaffold, or when debris is not promptly removed, these objects can become deadly missiles as they fall. Even at short heights, small tools and other light objects can cause serious, potentially lethal injuries.
OSHA Safety Standards
There are numerous OSHA standards that construction companies are required to adhere to in regard to scaffold construction, maintenance, and training. Companies that fail to adhere to these standards can be subject to fines and liability for the personal injuries their negligence causes.