Disclaimer - By publishing this information on this Web site, the Boston, Massachusetts law firm of Altman & Altman LLP is not claiming to represent any clients or cases mentioned here. The content provided is designed to inform readers and is not intended as legal advice.

Articles Posted in Scaffolding Accident

Two weeks ago, a construction worker working at the Hartford Hospital site in Hartford, Connecticut fell three stories, a total of more than 60 feet, when the scaffolding he was working on collapsed.  Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials says that the worker, a 47 year old employee of Total Wall Systems Inc., was on a “rolling scaffold” when it fell off a building on site around 10:45 AM.  A scaffold is a temporary structure used during construction or maintenance to provide workers with support.  Rolling scaffolds are different in that they have wheels that give them mobility.  The worker was unconscious after the fall.  Another construction work on scene, Bruce Frosolone, stated that the collapse made a loud noise that resembled the sound of debris being thrown in a dumpster.  He was unaware that anyone was injured until medics began to show up.

This kind of accident is all too common for construction workers in Massachusetts and throughout New England.  The Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) reports that there are almost 2.3 million construction workers in the United States with about 65 percent of these workers working on scaffolding.  This means that 1.5 million construction workers are on scaffolding every year.  Figures show that on average there are 60 deaths and more than 4,500 injuries that are sustained while working on scaffolding annually.  These accidents are almost always avoidable.  There are many safety regulations in place that instruct contractors and management in ways to prevent tragic injuries.  According to a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report, 72 percent of workers injured in scaffold accidents attributed the accident to the planking or support giving way, to the employee slipping, or to the employee being struck by a falling object.  With compliance to OSHA standards, many of these accidents can be avoided.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), falls are a leading cause of traumatic death on the job as a result of “improper installation or operation of scaffold equipment, defective scaffold equipment, insufficient worker safety training, and failure to provide or use personal fall protection equipment.”  OSHA emphasizes the necessity that workers are informed of the hazards of their job and learn prevention measures.  OSHA also has strict regulations that are in place to help prevent serious injury and death from occurring.  There are important personal safety precautions to take as well.  These include: Continue reading

Year in and year out, on the job worker falls from high places are the number one cause of fatalities in the construction industry. Falls may occur due to faulty equipment, human error, slippery surfaces,  safety violations and lack of proper personal protection equipment. In Massachusetts, and many other states another major cause of fatal falls is poorly constructed scaffolding or construction staging. These types of structures are frequently used in construction projects and typically dot the skylines of all major cities at any given time. Tall buildings are covered in scaffolding to allow workers to reach upper levels that are inaccessible by a ladder. When staging is unstable, workers can fall multiple stories, causing serious injuries and death.

Boston Man Injured Last Week in Scaffolding Collapse

In a recent accident, a Boston man fell 50 feet when part of the construction staging he was on collapsed. The incident, which occurred last Thursday, took place at a construction site at 65 Charter Street in the North End. The 42-year-old man, who has not been identified, was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital for treatment of his injuries. However, it is not yet known if the injuries were serious or life-threatening.

Similar incidents have occurred in Boston and in other major U.S. cities, and the severity of injuries varies greatly. For example, three people were killed in Boston when a 10-ton scaffolding collapsed and fell 13 stories in 2006. In 2011, scaffolding on a building in Harlem collapsed, landing on a bus and injuring 18 people. A year later, three New York City construction workers were left dangling from a 17th story window when staging collapsed in the Upper East Side. And earlier this year, scaffolding collapse accidents in Houston and Raleigh, N.C., resulted in multiple serious injuries and fatalities.

What Causes Staging / Scaffolding to Collapse?

Any type of accident or dangerous condition can lead to a staging / scaffolding collapse, or a fall from this type of structure. However, poorly constructed or inadequately inspected scaffolding is often the cause. Other possible causes of staging and scaffolding collapses include:

Old or weak materials

Improper maintenance

Scaffolding that is improperly secured

Missing or defective brake

Missing or faulty safety systems

Following safety protocol before using suspended staging and scaffolding is extremely important. Unfortunately, victims of scaffolding collapses are more likely to suffer serious injuries or death than victims of most other work-related accidents. Continue reading

Six construction workers were injured early Tuesday morning when part of a building at Bryant University suddenly collapsed.

The indoor practice facility, part of the university’s Smithfield, Rhode Island campus, was under construction. At around 8:15 WCVB reports, the building gave way, trapping several workers under beams. Fortunately, all six workers sustained only minor injuries. The 78,000 square foot building has been under construction since May 2015 and was slated to open in 2016. AZ Corp. Construction Management is currently overseeing the building’s construction.

Continue reading

In the state Senate, a bill was introduced this year that could enhance the benefits allowed for injuries involving permanent disfigurement under the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act. Currently, workers here who sustain disfigurement on their legs, arms, and torsos are not entitled to work injury compensation for those injuries, although they may still receive other benefits for income loss, medical care, and non-scar based disfigurements.

Massachusetts workers’ compensation for permanent scarring is only provided for disfigurement that occurs to the neck, face, or hands. State workers’ compensation law awards a lump-sum payment to these permanently scarred or disfigured workers. If the injury is purely scar-based, the amount of the award will depend on the size of the scar and whether discoloration occurred.

The bill would allow workers disfigured on the lower areas of their body to get compensation too.

Continue reading

It may be months before investigators conclude their probe into the construction accident that killed three workers on Monday. The deadly incident happened when a piece of scaffolding—known as the mast climber scaffold—fell to the ground, causing construction workers who were on it to fall 200 feet. A fourth worker was taken to the hospital with injuries. The incident occurred in North Carolina.

The scaffolding had been attached to a new building. One of its tracks snapped off, causing the equipment to fall onto the ground.

Continue reading

The Massachusetts Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the Lee-based contracting company Fairview Contractors Inc. after an investigation revealed that it had failed to provide protection for a worker who had fallen to his death in November of 2013.

The report, which was issued only recently this month, stated that the company did not provide any fall protection, which could have prevented the incident. The 51-year-old fell nearly 20 feet while he was performing roofing work on a condominium in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

“This was a needless and avoidable loss of a worker’s life. While guardrails and fall arrest systems were present at this work site, they were not used and were thus useless,” Mary Hoye, OSHA’s area director for central and western Massachusetts said in a statement. “Fatalities such as this will stop only when employers supply and ensure the use of effective and legally required fall protection safeguards on all job sites at all times.”

OSHA discovered that the four scaffolds on which the employees were working on lacked any fall-preventive guardrails as well as fall arrest systems. An additional fall hazard was presented from the lack of guardrails from the walkboards that the workers were using to move from one scaffold to the other. The report also found that Fairview had failed to train workers on how to identify hazards as well as how to work safely on scaffolding, roofs and ladders. Fairview was ultimately cited with two violations, including willful lack of fall protection and five serious violations for the remaining hazards. The company now faces fines of $119,350.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this worker’s fall was one of seven fatal falls to have occurred in the Massachusetts construction industry since 2012.
Continue reading

Two men working at an under-construction home in Charlestown were injured after the scaffolding they were standing on collapsed.

The incident occurred around 8 a.m. yesterday morning, and Boston fire rescue was immediately dispatched to the scene. Both men were transported to a local Boston hospital with injuries to their backs, legs, and necks. It is unclear of the cause of the accident or whether OSHA had been called in to investigate the incident.
—————————————————————————————————————————————
file000714418981.jpgThe construction business remains the most hazardous work industry in the United States, accounting for nearly 20% of all workplace fatalities annually. While both victims in this case are expected to survive, the incident serves as yet another reminder to construction workers of how dangerous their job can be. Carpenters and roofers incur risky situations on a day-to-day basis, and among these types of workers, falls are the leading cause of injury or death. In a report published by The Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational and Safety Health, out of the 32 reported work-related deaths in Massachusetts last year, six were cause by falls.

Scaffolding is used as a temporary platform that is used to help build, install, repair, or reach any surface that cannot be reached by ladder. Scaffolding incidents can occur for a number of reasons including incorrect assembly and improper manufacturing. Accidents can also happen when supports fail or collapse, when scaffolding is broken, scaffolding is wet and a worker slips and falls, or when workers are inadequately trained on how to operate equipment.

Approximately 2.3 million men and women or 65% of those in the construction industry work on scaffolds in the United States. Protecting workers on construction sites where scaffolding is commonly used may prevent an estimated 4,500 injuries and 60 deaths each year, according to OSHA.

No matter what the actual cause of the incident-whether it was a misstep by the victims, a manufacturing defect with the scaffolding or any other circumstance that caused the men fall, ultimately the construction company may be liable. By OSHA standards, employers are responsible for providing safe work environments for all of his or her employees to prevent hazardous situations that pose the threat of serious bodily injury or death. Though the details of this situation are still vague, what can be discerned is that had proper safety precautions been taken; such as the use of a safety harness, the men’s injuries may have been prevented.
Continue reading

Two workers who became trapped at the top of the Hearst Building in New York City were rescued without injury Wednesday afternoon.

Rescue crews from the New York City fire department arrived around 2:40 p.m. Wednesday to help two window washers who became suspended on the 44th floor after the metal scaffolding they were standing on buckled and gave way.
file000631812783.jpg
According to officials, firefighters worked from both the roof and from a window on the 44th floor (which was level with the scaffold platform) to reach the two men. Firefighters eventually cut a 4-foot-by-4-foot panel of glass from the window and pulled the workers to safety. The men, ages 26 and 49, were both wearing safety harnesses, and neither was injured. Firefighters were also able to pull the scaffolding up to the roof, where they determined that it was the scaffolding’s motor that had failed and thus caused the incident.

Luckily both men’s safety harnesses were functioning properly and they were uninjured. However, this is not always the circumstance. Earlier last month for example, two men working at Hingham High School were injured after they both fell off of the roof’s scaffolding. While both of the men were equipped with safety harnesses, one of the men was seriously injured after his safety harness failed.

Scaffolding is used as a temporary platform that is used to help build, install, repair, or reach any surface that cannot be reached by ladder. Scaffolding incidents can occur for a number of reasons including incorrect assembly and improper manufacturing. Accidents can also happen when supports fail or collapse, when scaffolding is broken, scaffolding is wet and a worker slips and falls, or when workers are inadequately trained on how to operate equipment.

Due to the height of scaffolding, injuries sustained during scaffolding incidents are often serious and sometimes fatal. Injuries might include fractures, head injuries, broken bones, or spinal trauma that could lead to paralysis or death.
Continue reading

A worker was injured Tuesday after falling from the Hingham Middle School construction site.

The 45-year-old man from New Bedford, MA, apparently fell from the third story scaffolding of the building around 1 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon. According to Hingham Police Sergeant Steven Dearth, the worker was conscious when paramedics arrived, and was taken to South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, MA. 1170121_construction_place.jpg

Construction at the school has since stopped while officials from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigate the incident. The identity and injuries of the worker are still unknown.

While it is still unknown the reason to why the worker fell in the first place, there are factors that may have played a role into his fall. Scaffolding is a temporary platform that is often used on construction sites to reach areas that are not accessible by ladder. These types of accidents occur for a variety of reasons including incorrect assembly, manufacturing defects, collapse or failure, broken platform, slippery surfaces, and inadequate training or experience with the equipment. And because of the height of these structures, injuries are severe or fatal and may include fractures, broken bones, spinal cord and traumatic head injuries, and even death.

Scaffolding and general requirements on construction sites are the number one safety violation cited by OSHA officials. Construction falls are also the number one cause of death and injury in workplace settings in the United States, accounting for 251 deaths (35% of total workplace deaths) in 2011.

Safety Tips for Workers

All laborers who regularly work on scaffolding must be properly trained with suspension scaffolding and fall protection equipment. In most scaffolding fall cases, the accident was completely preventable.

When working on scaffolding, workers should take the following precautions:

-Learn the proper OSHA standards and regulations for working on scaffolds; such as weight capacity, construction, fall protection, proper scaffolding use.
-Ensure that the scaffolding being used is designed correctly and conforms to OSHA regulations.
-Shield all scaffold suspension ropes and body belt harness system droplines from abrasive or sharp edges to prevent them from being severed.
-Carefully inspect all scaffolds and their components, as well as personal fall protection equipment.
-Ensure that all workers are well equipped with proper fall protection equipment prior to stepping onto a scaffold.
-Properly anchor tiebacks of the scaffolding at different points.
Continue reading

A Massachusetts Appeals Court has recently ruled that two employers can be held jointly responsible for an injured employee´s workers’ compensation benefits, despite them each having classified the worker as an independent contractor.

In Leo Whitman’s Case, No. 10-P-71, Sept. 6, 2011, the court affirmed an earlier decision by the Industrial Accident Reviewing Board within the Department of Industrial Accidents by ruling that the claimant was an employee, not an independent contractor, for both of the businesses he was working for at the time of his injury. Leo Whitman, a construction worker whose specialty was installing drywall, had been working for approximately three years for two redevelopers, Stephen Sarcia and John Citrano. Each purchased, refurbished, and resold delapidated residential properties. The two men also introduced Whitman to Anthony Pace, the owner of PPM, a redevelopment company that also hired Whitman to work on condominium residences.

During this time period, Whitman continued to work for Sarcia and Citrano, whom he thought of as partners, and from PPM. Whitman viewed them collectively as “a group” because of their continuous supply of full-time work for him, according to the court papers. Throughout 2004 and 2005, Whitman worked for PPM in addition to Sarcia and Citrano at 10 different building sites. According to court documents, Whitman thought of Sarcia and Citrano as partners and he thought of Sarcia, Citrano, and PPM, as “a group” because of their continuous supply of full-time work for him. At the rate of $250 per day for five to seven days per week, Whitman was given daily assignments and was paid weekly by checks addressed to him individually. The payments were his sole income and Whitman did not submit a bid or sign a contract related to his work.

Contact Information