Scaffolding is commonplace at construction sites and according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an estimated 2.3 million construction workers, or 65 percent of the construction industry, work on scaffolds. These temporary structures allow a construction team to safely build, repair, or maintain structures and to keep any passersby safe from harm. Mishaps are possible although scaffolds are used to prevent accidents and injuries. The two most common related accidents, slip and falls and being hit by falling objects, could lead to catastrophic injuries or death.
What Causes Scaffolding Accidents?
Scaffolding is erected to keep workers and pedestrians safe, but could be responsible for more harm than good if the proper installation or operating procedures are not followed. It is imperative to train those configuring the scaffolding or working at the construction site. Damaged or improperly installed equipment or overloading above capacity may cause the scaffolding to tip or collapse.
Inadequate access and unstable planks could contribute to a worker falling from various heights. The absence of or defective ancillary infrastructure may enable fallen objects to strike those in its path. How the accident occurs can determine the type of injuries sustained. Ailments can range from broken bones to traumatic brain injuries or collapsed lungs.
Scaffolding regulations are in place to keep individuals safe and to prevent the opportunity for accidents. New York has specific laws associated with scaffold safety. However, construction companies may cut corners for financial reasons or to speed up timelines. After investigations due to incidents, it is sometimes found that there were known safety violations at the sites.
Staying Safe Around Scaffolding
All scaffolding should be inspected before use. Ensure that it is structurally sound and clear of any debris or haphazardly placed equipment. Remove risk by keeping an organized workspace. Debris or improperly placed materials could contribute to slip and fall situations or fallen objects. Wearing the proper personal protective equipment, such as a hardhat, can reduce the possibility of being injured by dropped items. Lastly, there should never be too many workers or materials above what the scaffolding is able to support.
Always be aware of your surroundings when working in an environment with scaffolds. Accidents may be attributed to the scaffolding themselves, but danger could stem from the location of the scaffolding as well. For example, check to see if there are power lines nearby. It is required that they be located at a safe distance away. Are there auxiliary items such as safety netting or guard rails to provide an extra layer of protection?
Hazardous conditions can be preventable with the proper training of those installing and working on the scaffolds, adherence to guidelines, and routine inspection. Report any noticeable safety concerns to the site supervisor immediately. It is the construction company’s responsibility to ensure that adequate safety measures are in place and that any violations are remediated.
If You are Involved in a Scaffolding Accident…
Accidents may still occur, even if you are diligent about minimizing risk around scaffolding. The personal injury attorneys at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye, PLLC, are here to answer questions about your legal rights in the event of a scaffolding related injury. You can reach us by phone at our Westbury, New York office at 800-469-7429 or use the online contact form to schedule an appointment.