Dangers of Working on Scaffolds

The dangers of working on scaffolds can be reduced.

Working on a scaffold is a common occurrence for many people in the construction, window-washing and painting business. Such work is always dangerous, even for workers wearing safety gear.

Scaffolding safety violations consistently rank near the top of the list of health and safety violations, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In 2009, 54 fatalities occurred from scaffolds. The number one scaffold hazard is worker falls. A total of 72 percent of worker injuries in scaffold accidents were due to falls linked to the collapse of a plank or support, or to a falling object hitting the worker.

Improper construction and negligent scaffolding maintenance cause accidents to happen. If all employers complied with correct safety standards and made sure workers used adequate fall protection, approximately 50 lives a year could be saved and 4500 accidents prevented, said OSHA.

Risks of scaffolding accidents can be reduced in a number of ways.

  1. Scaffolding should be inspected by a competent person after it is erected and before each work shift to ensure that it is up to safety standards. OSHA partially defines a competent person as “one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.”
  2. Workers should have adequate fall protection or fall arrest systems, like safety harnesses and guardrails.
  3. Workers should receive adequate safety training on both hazards and the proper use of the fall protection/ fall arrest system.
  4. Workers and employers should make sure scaffolding has debris nets and other protections to prevent objects from falling off the scaffold and hitting a person below.
  5. Safe weight limits of scaffolding must be strictly adhered to and must factor in the weight of people, plus the weight of materials, tools and debris on the platform, if any. Scaffolding that collapses can injure or kill anyone standing on top of it or beneath it.

Scaffold-related injuries and construction accident lawyers

In New York, employees who are injured in scaffolding accidents at work sites have legal remedies available. The Scaffold Law gives workers on construction sites the ability to sue property owners and contractors, under certain circumstances. Workers may also have a potential workers’ compensation claim.

Should an injury occur, the laws can help an injured construction worker receive monetary compensation that can help pay for medical expenses, lost wages, pain, suffering and more. An experienced construction accident lawyer can help identify liable parties for a construction accident, whether the general contractor, subcontractor, or manufacturer of defective equipment is the one to blame. If a construction worker dies on the job site, a lawyer can help his or her family get the compensation they deserve.

For over 40 years, David H. Perecman has distinguished himself as one of the leading personal injury lawyers in New York City, championing all types of personal injury cases including construction accidents, premises accidents, automobile accidents, and medical malpractice, along with employment discrimination, false arrest, and civil rights cases.