The greatest number of fatalities in the construction industry are attributable to falls from heights. While ladder falls represent a significant number of such accidents, scaffolding accidents often present even more serious or deadly risks.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), provides detailed guidelines on the use of scaffolds in the construction industry. For most scaffold workers, employers are required by law to provide fall protection or fall arrest systems for employees who work ten feet or more above a lower level. For some types of scaffolds, both a personal fall arrest system (harnesses) and a guardrail are required for the scaffold use. Employers are required to train employees who work on scaffolds and inspect the scaffold before each work shift. The employer must further provide a competent person to oversee the erecting and dismantling of scaffolds.
The four leading hazards associated with scaffolding are falls from scaffolds, being struck by scaffolding, workers caught in or between scaffolding, and electrocution. The causes of scaffold accidents are too numerous to mention, but some of the more common reasons involve the following:
- Missing or inadequate fall protection, fall arrest systems, or guardrails
- Uneven footings
- Scaffolding and rigging inadequate to support the intended load
- Platforms not fully planked or decked
- Scaffolds not restrained from tipping by guying, tying, or bracing
- Workers not properly trained on hazards and safety procedures
- Lack of periodic and episodic inspections
- Platform cluttered with debris
- Narrow platform or walkway
- Lack of counterweights or improper material used for counterweights
- Scaffolds covered with snow, ice, or other slippery materials
Construction workers face numerous hazards on the jobsite, and working on scaffolding is one of the most dangerous. Scaffolding is often built to such heights that any fall is likely to result in death or a permanent injury such as a head, neck or back injury. Construction work can be made safe when employees are properly trained, scaffolds are properly built and maintained, and important safety features are installed. Most accidents are avoidable, and when negligence or incompetence causes a tragic accident, those responsible should be held accountable for the damages they have caused. If you have been injured or lost a loved one due to a scaffolding accident in New York City, contact Leandros A. Vrionedes, P.C. for a free consultation on how we can help you recover for your losses.