Constructing a rapidly-expanding modern world requires millions of construction workers performing potentially dangerous work. According to OSHA, around 2.3 million construction workers (65 percent of the entire industry) work on scaffolding in limited or high-frequency capacities. Scaffolding is required to temporarily reach high places while construction is ongoing.
Workers must be able to safely construct and navigate scaffolding in order to complete their work duties. As always, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a long list of requirements and regulations regarding the implementation, use and safety of construction scaffolding.
The most common cause of death for construction workers in the United States is falls from great heights. Out of 899 construction worker deaths reported in 2014, 359 were caused by falls. A total of 54 deaths were reported specifically as a result of scaffolding accidents in 2009. Protection from falls and scaffolding violations are number 1 and number 3 respectively on OSHA’s list of top 10 most frequently cited violations in 2015. Some of the most important requirements for scaffolding that sits on the ground, as dictated by OSHA, are as follows:
- Each scaffold and scaffolding component must be able to maintain its own weight plus at least four times its intended maximum load
- Only qualified individuals should design and construct scaffolding
- There must be no gaps greater than one-inch wide between planking and support railing. In places where there are obstructions from side brackets or other joints, the space must not exceed nine inches
- Each scaffold platform and walkway must be at least 18 inches wide. If walkways are less than 18 inches wide, guardrails or fall-protection gear should be implemented
- Guardrails must be used in all sides of scaffolding over 10 feet in the air, unless an open face of the scaffolding directly faces an area where work needs to be done
- Wood is an acceptable material for walkways, while plastic or steel must NOT be used for guardrails
Most scaffolding accidents are the result of user error, faulty equipment, improper construction of the scaffolding itself, or negligent maintenance. Workers can be seriously injured or killed when they are struck by a falling object, lose their footing and fall from the scaffolding, or when supports give way. The following tips can help you prevent injury or death in a scaffolding accident.
- Inspect scaffolding prior to use. A daily visual inspection can help workers to more effectively detect damage, defects, or worn parts that should be replaced.
- Follow manufacturer guidelines, such as specifications for set up and break down, and information about load capacities. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a scaffolding accident.
- Train workers regularly. Anyone working on or around scaffolding should receive proper training. In addition to general safety information, workers should be trained about that particular scaffold’s design, how to set it up and tear it down, and how to safely climb on and off the scaffolding.
- Proper gear should be worn at all times. Safety gear, including hard hats, non-slip footwear, and harnesses should be well maintained and readily available for workers. Scaffolding should also be equipped with appropriate safety equipment, including toeboards, guardrails, and
- Ensure that scaffolding is erected on stable ground. Never use unstable objects -such as bricks or concrete blocks – to support scaffolds.
- Keep scaffolding a safe distance – at least 10 feet – from power lines. A MA work injury lawyer can help you obtain the compensation you deserve if you’ve been injured in a scaffolding accident.
- Clear debris and spills from scaffolding immediately. Falling debris can be deadly, and spilled liquids and other substances can result in slipping.
If you notice that any of the above guidelines aren’t being followed at your work site, speak to a supervisor immediately. If your supervisor doesn’t resolve the issue, you can always report the problem to OSHA. An agency representative will visit your work site to conduct a safety investigation. If violations are discovered, the company will need to immediately remedy the issue, and may be cited, fined, or both.
In such a dangerous industry, construction workers take on a sizable risk while performing their regular duties. As a result, many accidental deaths happen every year that may not be prevented despite any amount of safety regulations. However, there are far too many cases of gross negligence causing deaths that could, and should, have been prevented. If construction foremen don’t follow OSHA protocol or they produce an unsafe work environment, they are liable for the medical expenses, pain and suffering of any worker who is injured as a result.
At HURT-511, our personal injury lawyers help injured workers recover the benefits to which they are entitled by law. For a free consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer, call us toll-free at 800-4878-511 or complete our online form. Our firm handles accident and injury claims throughout all five boroughs of New York.
HURT-511 operates in all boroughs of New York including all Bronx neighborhoods, namely: Bedford Park, Belmont, Fordham, Highbridge, Hunts Point, Jerome Park, Kingsbridge, Morris Park, Morrisania, Mott Haven, Parkchester, Riverdale, Spuyten Duyvil, Throgs Neck, University Heights and Woodlawn.