More than two million construction workers work on scaffolds every year. Unfortunately, in an already dangerous industry, scaffolds pose an even greater risk. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), scaffold accidents cause about 4,500 injuries and more than 60 deaths annually. As such, employers must ensure that they are doing everything possible to protect workers from scaffold-related accidents.
A recent BLS study revealed that 72 percent of workers injured in scaffold accidents reported the cause of the accident to be one of three factors: the plank or support gave way, the worker slipped, or the worker was struck by a falling object. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a work-related accident.
Scaffolding Safety Concerns
One of the leading causes of injuries and deaths in the construction industry, scaffolding accidents can be dramatically reduced by implementing proper safety measures.
- Always inspect scaffolding prior to use. Before each work shift, workers should visually inspect the scaffolds, looking for defective or damaged parts that should be replaced. Also inspect personal fall protection equipment to ensure that it is in good working order.
- Follow scaffold instructions and guidelines for set up and use. Every scaffold has its own load capacity, set up specifications, and other guidelines.
- Workers should be regularly trained on scaffold use, as well as on the specifications for a particular scaffold prior to a job assignment. Training should include how to perform visual inspections, how to set up and break down scaffolds, how to properly ascend and descend the scaffolding, and how to safely and accurately utilize fall protection equipment.
- Workers should always use proper safety equipment and gear. Scaffolds should be equipped with guardrails, and should be braced and attached to a solid structure. Personal safety gear is equally important. This includes non-slip footwear, fall protection equipment, and head protection.
- Ensure that scaffolds are erected on solid, stable ground. In addition to being placed on a stable surface, it is imperative that scaffolds are properly braced using poles and uprights. Never use objects such as bricks or concrete blocks to “prop” or stabilize scaffolding.
- Never exceed a scaffold’s load capacity. Each scaffold is designed to hold up to a certain weight, and nothing more. Exceeding the maximum load capacity can result in a scaffold collapse.
- Stay at least 10 feet from power lines. Unless the lines near scaffolds can be disconnected, never place scaffolding in close proximity; electrocutions are often fatal.
- Spills, clutter and other debris on scaffolds can be deadly. As mentioned above, many scaffold accidents are due to a worker slipping and falling. Avoid a potentially-deadly fall by wearing fall protection equipment and keeping scaffolds free and clear of spills and debris.
If your employer is not following one or more of the safety guidelines above, speak up. If you don’t feel that your employer is willing or able to resolve the issues, you can report your concerns to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). A MA work injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured on the job. Continue reading