The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have estimated that 2.3 million construction workers, or 65 percent of the construction industry, work on scaffolds, making them a necessity in most development of ongoing projects. Construction workers utilize the temporary structures to assist in building and repairing the developments they work on. The employment of scaffolds on construction sites are used to prevent accidents. However, accidents do occur. Chief among them are slip and fall incidents, along with being susceptible to being struck by falling items that can lead to personal injury or death.
OSHA identifies routine types of scaffolds: supported scaffolds, which contain of one or more platforms maintained by rigid, weight-bearing members such as poles, legs, frames, outriggers, and other supports; and suspended scaffolds, which are comprised of one or more platforms suspended by lines or other non-rigid, overhead support.
It is worth noting that scissor lifts and aerial lifts can be considered as other types of supported scaffolds, according to OSHA. Workers who use scaffolds can be found in the following subcontracting work on a construction site: erectors, users, and designers.
It is worth noting that scaffolding accidents are largely avoidable. However, despite the best intentions of construction crews and safety regulations, they still occur.
Why Do Scaffolding Accidents Occur?
Erected correctly, scaffolding can help workers and pedestrians remain safe. However, if not installed properly, they could cause significant injuries for all parties involved. Those who are responsible for setting up scaffolding must be trained in the meticulous details of erecting a safe and solid temporary structure from which to work. Without the proper knowledge to install solidified scaffolding, overloading or improper construction of the structure can make the scaffolding slant or fail.
Insufficient entrances, along with wobbly planks, have the potential risk of a construction worker falling from various altitudes. The deficiency of or flawed secondary infrastructure may allow fallen items to strike those in its track. Oftentimes injuries are determined by the nature of the accident, with sustained injuries ranging to traumatic brain injuries to collapsed lungs to broken bones. Pennsylvania regulates policies to keep construction workers safe on the job, yet despite all these safety nets developers are known to be cunning when it comes to meeting construction deadlines. In doing so, they may knowingly violate safety violations on the job site.
Pennsylvania is under federal OSHA jurisdiction, which protects most commercial sector workers within the state. State and local municipality workers are not covered by federal OSHA.
OSHA has identified the following collective perils related with all scaffold builds:
- Drops from elevation, owing to lack of fall defense.
- Breakdown of the scaffold, caused by unsteadiness or overworking.
- Being hit by falling tools, work materials, or fragments.
- Electrocution, owing to the proximity of the scaffold to overhead power lines.
Remaining Safe around the Scaffolding Work Area
It is paramount to inspect all scaffolding before use to confirm that it is appropriately built and designed to handle the prospective job. Keeping a tidy workspace will remove potential risks, along with falling debris and equipment that could compromise the integrity of a temporary structure. As a construction worker, it is imperative that you use the proper protective equipment such as a hardhat, boots, gloves, belt and holders, and tool safety lanyards. Also, never overcrowd the scaffolding with too many workers. Keeping these protective measures in mind will help you remain safe on the jobsite.
Being aware of the scaffold’s surroundings can help prevent accidents as well. Stay clear of power lines and employ supporting items such as safety netting or guard rails to deliver an extra layer of security.
Oftentimes, perilous conditions surrounding scaffold accidents can be circumvented with appropriate training of those installing and employed on the scaffolds, observance to procedures, and routine assessment. If there are any safety concerns on site, make your supervisor aware of the conditions immediately. The onus is on the developers to cultivate a safe construction environment at all times with employees working on scaffolds cognizant of the following safety procedures:
- A hardhat should be always worn in the construction area, including the scaffold workplace.
- Extra emphasis should be placed on the erection of the scaffold as intended, without deviation, and the scaffold should be inspected after construction.
- If weather has made the scaffold work slippery with snow, ice, or other slipping hazards, it should not be used until it is sufficiently cleared and dry.
- Free-standing ladders or boxes should never be placed on scaffolds because the potential for them to fall off the scaffold creates a perilous situation.
- When mounted ladders are utilized, safety instructions that are intended to keep the employee safe should be followed.
- Designated methods of access should be used when entering a scaffold, with employees refraining from using short-cuts to enter the work area.
- Employees must be aware of surroundings when working on or near a scaffold.
- A supervisor should be notified of any potential safety violations or concerns. The best practice is to inform them of any issues with the scaffold to avert any potential accidents.
Comprehending Scaffolding Safety Principles and Standards
Federal and state regulations have authorized that developers follow strict protocols in order to foster safe work conditions for all parties at the construction site. Construction companies must remain cognizant of the type of scaffolding that is being employed at the project site. Below are safety procedures and standards that need to be adhered when working on scaffolds:
- Companies must take into consideration the type of scaffolding being used at the construction site.
- Safe entrances must be provided at all altitudes of access on a scaffold.
- Planking must be able to maintain its own load rating, plus four times or more of the envisioned load.
- Repetitive inspections of scaffolds and riggings must take place in advance of each shift.
- Work is not permitted on scaffolds with debris.
- Scaffold must be at least 10 feet away from electrical power lines.
- Steps and landings added to the scaffold must utilize non-slip treads and guardrails, along with steady and level footing.
- A manager must be told before scaffolds are erected, moved, dismantled, or changed in any way.
- Employees must be taught by a competent individual familiar with scaffold-related hazards and learn how to mitigate risks. This includes any hazards associated with falls, tumbling objects, electrical use, material management, and how to use scaffolds correctly.
- Scaffolds must be suitably and firmly attached to construction facades.
- Any accessories used in combination with scaffolds, including ropes and ladders, must be in proper working order, and if any equipment is deficient, it is to be replaced or fixed immediately.
- Canopies and security netting should be used as necessary to protect workers and bystanders from potentially falling debris.
In addition, larger scaffolds should be subjected to further review by a professionally trained and certified engineer.
Scaffolding Accident Statistics
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that adequately protecting workers who use scaffolds could help avoid up to 4,500 injuries and over 60 fatalities a year. These accidents would help construction companies save $90 million from lost workdays. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reported that 72 percent of workers injured in scaffold accidents attributed the mishap either to the planking or support giving way, or to the employee falling or being struck by a falling object. These accidents could be avoided if the erecting of the scaffolding is in compliance with OSHA standards.
South River Construction Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Help Workers after a Scaffolding Accident
By following safety protocols, workers using scaffolding on the job should stay safe. Unfortunately, accidents do occur. If you have been injured at work because of a scaffolding accident, reach out to the South River construction accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr. We will investigate the cause of your accident and fight to secure the compensation for which you are entitled. Call us today at 877-249-4600 or 732-249-4600 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients in New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, Colonia, Elizabeth, and Newark.