Scaffolds are important parts of the construction industry, allowing workers to reach high places and perform their work from a stable platform. Unfortunately, scaffolds are inherently dangerous, and there are many ways a scaffold accident can lead to a tragic accidental death. Some of the main causes of scaffold-related deaths include falls, improper construction, negligence, and more.
It is vital for everyone who works with and upon scaffolds to know the risks of accidental death associated with these structures. Falls are some of the most dangerous accidents that might occur on scaffolds, and falling from even moderate height can cause serious injuries or even death. Using caution and following industry-approved safety guidelines are the best ways to avoid serious accidents resulting in catastrophic injury or death.
What Types of Accidents Might Happen in Scaffolding?
When it comes to scaffold-related accidents, some of these incidents occur due to poor construction of the scaffold itself, while others happen because of external factors:
- Poor scaffold quality. It is vital for those who must work on scaffolds to purchase high-quality scaffolding systems. When older scaffolding equipment becomes worn, it is necessary to replace the equipment before it can cause an accident.
- Improper scaffolding construction. Whenever a scaffold is necessary for construction, those who build the scaffold must ensure they follow applicable regulations set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
- Negligence. Construction is one of the most inherently dangerous industries, and those who work in construction have a responsibility to exercise caution and good judgment at all times. If a scaffolding death occurred due to another party’s negligence, they are likely to face liability for wrongful death.
- Falling objects, debris, and tools. Working on a scaffold demands care and caution. Using tools and performing construction work carries a risk of many types of objects potentially falling off the scaffold and injuring someone below.
- Employer negligence. If an employer is clearly responsible for a scaffolding death, the victim’s family may pursue legal action against the employer.
- Environmental danger. Scaffolds used outside are subject to the elements. Rain can make scaffolding slippery or cause the base supports to sink into the ground if they are not properly secured, and strong wind can potentially knock over an outdoor scaffold.
Knowing these risks is the first step toward preventing them and the damage they cause, including severe injuries that lead to workers’ compensation claims and sometimes further legal action. It is crucial to always follow applicable safety regulations when you must work with or on a scaffold.
Are Scaffolds Safe?
Scaffolding, like other temporary structures used in construction, is safe when used appropriately. The best method of preventing deaths from scaffolding accidents is for employers and construction site managers to encourage safety at all times, enforce scaffolding training, and conduct regular inspections to ensure scaffolds remain safe and reliable.
How High Can Scaffold Structures Go?
There are many different types of scaffolding systems used in modern construction, and some of them can extend very high off the ground. OSHA upholds clear guidelines for the different types of scaffolding, their appropriate uses, and their maximum safe heights. It is always best to refrain from pushing the height limit to its maximum whenever possible.
How Can an Accident or Injury on Scaffolding be Prevented?
Any organization that uses scaffolding in its business operations has a responsibility to ensure its employees who work with scaffolding do so safely. Some of the best methods of preventing serious and fatal scaffolding accidents include:
- Investment in high-quality scaffolding systems. Better scaffolds will cost more, but the tradeoff is increased safety and reliability.
- Dedication to employee safety training and encouraging additional ongoing education. Employers need to ensure their employees are fully aware of the risks of using scaffolds and remain committed to workplace safety at all times.
- Careful workplace supervision. Jobsite supervisors must address observed safety hazards immediately and correct employee misuse of scaffolds to prevent injuries.
- Daily inspections of scaffolds used in long-term construction projects. When a scaffold is left at a jobsite overnight or over the weekend, it is possible for external forces to
- Clear policies for proper use of scaffolds.
While it is possible to significantly reduce the chances of a serious scaffolding injury or death by following these steps, the reality is that scaffolding accidents can happen at any time without warning.
If you or a loved one recently sustained an injury from a scaffolding-related accident, contact our firm. It’s essential to know your rights and determine whether any other party bears liability for the incident. Reach out to an experienced workplace accident attorney to better understand your rights and legal options.