An estimated 65 percent of construction workers work on scaffolds frequently, according to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). Scaffolding may involve some common types of construction site injuries – each year, 4,500 workers are injured, and 50 workers die in scaffolding accidents. Not only do scaffolding accidents affect workers and families, but they also cost employers roughly $90 million per year in lost workdays. It’s in everybody’s best interest to reduce risks and prevent these types of accidents.
Causes of Scaffolding Accidents
Below are some possible causes of scaffold accidents.
- The planking or support system gives way.
- The employee slips.
- A falling object strikes the employee.
“All of these can be controlled by compliance with OSHA standards,” OSHA explains.
OHSA is the division of the Department of Labor whose purpose is to assure safe and healthful working conditions by creating and enforcing safety standards in the workplace. The agency created specific guidelines for the construction and use of scaffolds, which they address in separately published standards for the general industry, shipyard employment, marine terminals and longshoring.
When OSHA reviewed and revised its scaffolds standard in 1996, it found a quarter of the workers injured in scaffold accidents had no scaffold safety training. It also found that more than three-quarters of the scaffolds were not equipped with guardrails. It’s little wonder why so many workers suffer injuries in scaffolding accidents.
Tips for Preventing Scaffolding Accidents
The best thing employees can do to prevent scaffolding accidents is to be familiar with the OHSA guidelines –then abide by them.
In addition, the tips below can go a long way in preventing scaffolding accidents.
- Carefully inspect the scaffold after erection and on a daily basis.
- Only build scaffolds on solid ground and ensure it’s plumbed.
- Use safety belts and lanyards.
- Do not use any bent or damaged parts. All parts and reinforcement should be in good repair.
- Add extra bracing where necessary to ensure stability.
- Use quality heavy wire or tie-in devices to secure the scaffold to the building.
- Do not go over the weight limit. Adhere to the scaffolding manufacturer’s safe load capacities.
- Don’t allow anyone to ride on moving scaffolding.
- Don’t allow anyone to climb on the bracing. Use ladders instead.
- Use double guardrails and toeboards.
- Do not make employees work on scaffolds in stormy or windy weather.
- Rope off unsafe areas.
- Keep the scaffold floor free of obstructions such as scraps, tools, or tangled lines.
- Don’t throw objects overboard. Instead, use a spotter and a debris chute or hoist.
- Use overhead canopies when work is being performed on a higher level.
Preparation and adherence to protocols are key to saving workers’ lives and preventing injuries.
Construction Workers’ Rights & Options after an Accident
Workers have a right to a safe working environment. If you believe that your working conditions and scaffolding are unsafe or not up to code or if you haven’t received proper training, you have a right to file a report with OHSA. OSHA may investigate the matter.
Also, if you or your loved one suffered injuries on the job due to a scaffolding accident, you may file a workers’ compensation claim. If a party other than an employer caused the accident, you may be eligible to file a negligence claim. This third-party claim may allow you to recover full damages instead of the limited workers’ compensation benefits. Talk to a lawyer about either option.
If you or your loved one was hurt in a scaffolding accident in Florida, call our attorneys at Chalik & Chalik to discuss your legal options. Contact us today at 855-529-0269 to set up a free consultation.
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