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Articles Posted in Scaffolding Accident

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Review Commission recently cited two MA contractors for safety violations after a scaffolding accident injured three workers. When the 2014 accident occurred at a Wenham worksite, Daryl Provencher and A.C. Castle Construction Co. Inc. were conducting business as Provencher Home Improvements. As such, OSHA cited the two companies as a single employer.

At the time of the accident, the three employees were working on a ladder jack scaffold. When the plank on which they were working broke, they fell about 20 feet to the ground. An OSHA investigation revealed that the plank was not approved for use on scaffolds; this fact was even stated on the product’s invoice. The investigation turned up additional violations, including a lack of fall protection for workers and deficiencies with other scaffold components. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you have been injured in a work-related accident.

In 2015, due to the common management and worksites of the two companies, OSHA cited Provencher and A.C. Castle as a single employer. Both companies contested their citations and associated penalties. A.C. Castle contended that it was not responsible for worksite safety, as the general contractor. In February 2017, Administrative Law Judge Sharon D. Calhoun ruled that, at the time of inspection, the companies were operating as a single employer. Although A.C. Castle attempted to review the decision, the request was declined by the commission, and on April 17, 2017, the ruling was made final.

Judge Calhoun’s decision cited multiple factors, including instances in which A.C. Castle acted as more than a general contractor. For example, the presence of A.C. Castle signs and the lack of Provencher signs, and A.C. Castle’s ability to fire and discipline employees. In addition, when A.C. Castle applied for building permits, it represented that it had no subcontractors. As a result of these violations, OSHA has fined A.C. Castle $173,500. As Daryl Provencher passed away in 2016, the claims against him have been removed.

“The judge’s decision, now a final order of the commission, upholds OSHA’s findings that A.C. Castle exercised a degree of control and oversight over Provencher’s operations sufficient to render the two a single employer under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, making them responsible as one entity for their employees’ safety,” said the regional solicitor of labor for New England, Michael Felson. A MA work injury lawyer can help if you’ve been harmed due to another’s negligence.

Most Common OSHA Safety Violations in 2016

“Serious” violations are defined as those “in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.” The most common OSHA safety violations change little from year to year. In 2016, the top ten list included:

  • Fall protection
  • Hazard communication
  • Scaffolding
  • Lockout / tagout
  • Respiratory protection
  • Ladders
  • Machine guarding
  • Powered industrial trucks
  • Electrical – wiring methods
  • Fall protection training

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A 54-year old Boston recently died after falling from scaffolding at a Waltham construction site. The man, who has not been identified, was unresponsive when first responders arrived to the scene, at 427 Lincoln Street. He was rushed to a local hospital, where he died from severe head injuries. According to police, the incident is under investigation by state police and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The man worked for a gutter company based in Watertown.

Scaffolding Dangers

Scaffolding accidents occur across the country with relative frequency. The statistics below show just how dangerous it can be to work on scaffolding, especially when OSHA’s safety guidelines are not followed:

  • Each year, about 10,000 construction workers are injured in scaffolding accidents in the United States.
  • Dozens of these accidents result in death.
  • About 72 percent of these accidents are caused by structural problems, workers slipping and falling, or workers being struck by falling objects or debris.

Fatal scaffolding accidents are frequently caused by third-party negligence. Negligence occurs when those responsible for safely assembling or maintaining the scaffolding do not do their job. The scaffolding manufacturer may also be on the hook if design or manufacturing defects contributed to the accident. A MA work injury lawyer can help you determine who is responsible for your injuries.

How to Prevent Scaffolding Accidents

The good news is, the majority of annual scaffolding accidents are easily preventable by following established safety protocol at all times. If you believe that your employer is neglecting to follow the safety guidelines below, you should report your concerns to a supervisor. If your supervisor fails to address your concerns, you can always contact OSHA. The agency will come to your work site to assess the situation.

  • Scaffolding should always be erected on solid, stable ground.
  • Scaffolds should have guardrails and toe boards.
  • Ropes used to suspend scaffolds must be kept a safe distance from sources of heat.
  • Scaffolds should be at least 10 feet from power lines at all times.
  • Scaffolds and scaffold accessories should be regularly inspected for safety problems.
  • Scaffolds and scaffold accessories should receive regular maintenance.
  • A management alert system should be established for the reporting of broken or defective parts.
  • Broken or defective parts should be fixed or replaced immediately.
  • Workers should receive regular safety training and refresher courses.
  • Employers should provide workers with necessary safety equipment, such as harnesses.
  • Spills and debris should be regularly cleaned from scaffolds to prevent falls.

Following the tips above can dramatically reduce your risk of serious injury or death in a scaffolding accident. Even with these efforts, however, injuries do still occur. A MA work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you have been injured in any type of work-related accident. Continue reading

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.

Scaffolding requirements

According to recent research by Penn State’s Department of Architectural Engineering, using Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) will improve construction site safety by observing and evaluating the safety of temporary structures found on construction sites.  Defined by the National Science Foundation, CPS are “engineered systems that are built from, and depend on, the seamless integration of computational algorithms and physical components.”  CPS are predicted to facilitate improvements in capability, adaptability, scalability, resiliency, safety, security and usability in embedded systems, as well as be a spearhead in persistent advancement and competition in the agriculture, energy, transportation, building design, healthcare and manufacturing industries.

CPS has already been implemented in a few of these aforementioned industries, including manufacturing, transportation and healthcare.  The construction industry will be the next area in which CPS will be utilized.  Xiao Yuan, an architectural engineering Ph.D. candidate, performed a study, which examines connecting sensors on structures and virtual models to improve the safety of the majority of construction workers who work on these temporary structures.  Over 75 percent of constructions workers can be found on such structures, which often include sheeting and shoring, temporary bracing or guide rails, soil backfill, formwork systems, scaffolding, the underpinning of foundations, etc.  The inappropriate construction and supervision of such temporary structures is one of the major safety hazards employers and employees, alike, are concerned with today.  According to OSHA’s 2014 report, 899 of the 4,386 worker fatalities in private industry, 20.5 percent, were related to the construction industry.  The most frequent kind of accident was falls on job sites.  OSHA also reported that of its top ten most commonly cited violations in 2015, construction fall protection and scaffolding general construction requirements were placed first and third, respectively.

OSHA has required safety training programs and practices, as well as design, installation, maintenance and dismantling regulations that are designed to decrease the occurrence of such violations.  However, additional steps also need to be taken, ergo CPS.  Specifically, Yuan’s research studies how CPS can foster safer construction and avoid failures of temporary structures by utilizing “virtual prototyping, data acquisition systems and communication networks.”  Yuan compiled her research for use of a mobile application, which provides immediate feedback about construction sites.  “Once there is a problem, our virtual model will know,” Yuan said.  “It’s just like when we feel something if it hurts—the virtual model will feel if there is a problem.”  The app can perform real-time inspections, remote interaction, and forewarn possible structural failures while instantly notifying workers.   Continue reading

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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