The Common Causes of Scaffolding Injuries

In the construction sector, scaffolding is a common and often necessary tool for workers to do their jobs.  Most construction workers and builders have some experience using scaffolding.  Used properly, these systems save time, effort and money and protect the workers who use them.  But all too often, scaffolding is the cause of serious injury and even death on the construction site.

What is scaffolding?  At its most basic, it’s any kind of elevated surface for working. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), scaffolding is any of three kinds of support structure used in construction and repair:

  1. Supported scaffolds, which consist of one or more platforms supported by rigid, load-bearing members, such as poles, legs, frames, outriggers, etc.
  2. Suspended scaffolds, which are one or more platforms suspended by ropes or other non-rigid, overhead support.
  3. Other types of equipment, principally scissor lifts and aerial lifts, can be regarded as other types of supported scaffolds.[1]

According to OSHA, the third most frequently cited safety violation in 2017 was scaffolding that failed to meet general requirements.[2]

How can injuries occur from the use of scaffolding?  Most commonly, scaffolding-related injuries are caused by falls.  In 2017, falls were the leading cause of injuries and fatalities in the construction industry, accounting for one-third of all jobsite deaths,[3]  and falls from scaffolds are the third most common cause of all construction accidents.[4]  Falls from scaffolding can occur because:

  • The planking on the scaffolding becomes rotted or damaged,
  • The scaffolding collapses due to instability or overloading,
  • The scaffolding was improperly assembled,
  • The scaffolding has not been routinely and properly inspected,
  • Scaffolding has been left up for too long, exposed to the elements which can weaken planking and other parts,
  • Workers have not been provided with safety harnesses and equipment,
  • Workers have not been given adequate training in scaffold use and safety,
  • Employers order work during high winds, extreme temperatures and/or storm conditions,
  • Guard rails have not been installed,
  • There is a lack of adequate fall protection,
  • Attachment points and/or parts have failed,
  • Safety rules have been ignored,
  • Vehicles or other equipment collide with the scaffolding, causing structural failure.

Other ways that workers can be injured using scaffolding include:

  • Being struck by falling tools, work materials or debris,
  • Being electrocuted due to the proximity of overhead power lines and improper safety precautions, or during electrical storms.

It is worth mentioning that injuries related to scaffolding can happen to non-construction workers, too, such as bystanders, passersby and those working near a construction/building site.

OSHA has stated that nearly all scaffolding accidents could be prevented if employers complied with established safety guidelines.  Unfortunately, all too often employers cut corners to save money.

Learn More About Construction Injuries

If you or a loved one has been injured at or near a construction site involving scaffolding, you may be entitled to compensation over and above what is provided by Workers’ Compensation.  We can help.  At Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP, our team of attorneys and legal professionals have handled hundreds of construction site accident claims successfully and we can put our expertise to work for you.  Call now for a free consultation at 1-800-LAW-1010, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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