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Unsafe scaffolding is the cause of many workplace injuries

Despite regular hazard alerts about the dangers of scaffolds, construction workers in California continue to be exposed to unsafe structures. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration prescribes strict regulations related to the erection of scaffolding structures. Unfortunately, many construction workers suffer workplace injuries due to non-compliance with safety rules.

OSHA says proper site assessment before erecting a scaffold is vital. Safety starts with the footing that must be level and stable enough to support the weight of the structure and the workers without giving way and causing a collapse. Mixing of different manufacturers' components must be avoided, and only quality, tested planks must be used for worker platforms. All couplings must be secure, and a competent person must inspect all aspects of the structure for stability before the start of each shift.

Many accidents result from failure to repair identified safety hazards. Collapses of scaffolds are sometimes caused by exceeding the structure's maximum load capacity. Falls often follow instances of ladders, blocks or buckets that are used to gain additional height. Another known hazard at this time of the year is slippery scaffolds caused by ice or snow.

Workplace injuries that were caused by unsafe scaffolding structures -- or any other safety hazard -- entitle California workers to pursue financial assistance through the workers' compensation insurance system. Benefits claims may be filed, and if it is established that the injuries were work-related, the insurance program will typically provide compensation to cover medical expenses. Also, when injuries lead to time away from work, a percentage of the injured worker's wages may be awarded as additional compensation.

Source: safetyandhealthmagazine.com, "Hazard alert: Scaffolding", Jan. 24, 2016

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