Articles Posted in Scaffolding Accident

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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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.
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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.
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.
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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.
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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.

Last Thursday afternoon, a scaffolding collapse at a construction site injured two people. The workers were papering the side of a duplex house and reportedly fell 22 feet when a chain being used to secure the scaffolding broke. The construction accident occurred around 1pm in Sea Isle City, NJ
Police identified the workers as a 32-year-old man and a 24-year-old man. Both injured workers suffered chest and back pain. One of the workers may have broken his wrist. They were airlifted to the trauma unit of a local hospital.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 88 people died as a result of scaffolding accidents in 2007. Even if these types of accidents are not fatal, they can lead to serious and debilitating injuries such as broken bones, fractures, brain injuries, and even paralysis.

Source: Two Injured in Sea Isle City Construction Accident, Cape May County Herald, November 18, 2010 Continue reading

On Tuesday afternoon, a construction accident injured two workers after the scaffolding collapsed on them. The two men were reportedly working on scaffolding inside the Cleveland County Jail construction site when cinder blocks underneath them gave away, resulting in a fall of between 12 and 18 feet. By the time firefighters and emergency crews arrived at the scene of the scaffolding accident, workers were already attempting to pull their coworkers from the debris.

One worker reportedly suffered a back injury, while the other had multiple leg fractures and contusions. Their injuries were not believed to be life-threatening. The construction company said it is investigating what caused part of the scaffolding to collapse.

Here in Massachusetts, we’ve seen a number of fatal scaffolding accidents in recent years. According to the Massachusetts Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation Project (FACE), the majority of workers who fall to their death in the state do so from scaffolds. In fact, a 29-year-old carpenter died after slipping off a scaffolding platform on an unguarded carpenter’s bracket scaffold. Another Massachusetts man, a 69-year-old mason, fell 20 feet to his death when a plank underneath him slipped.

Source: Scaffolding collapses on construction workers, Norman Transcript, October 20, 2010 Continue reading

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