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:
- Understanding and complying with OSHA regulations
- Assuring scaffold adhere to OSHA regulations before working on them
- Keep scaffold suspension ropes and body belts away from hot/corrosive processes and sharp edges
- Inspect all scaffold apparatuses and personal safety equipment before use
- Be sure all workers are equipped with personal fall protection equipment as this is the employer’s responsibility
- Assure areas of buildings that droplines for body belts are attached to are secure
By following these regulations, the risk of serious injury and death as a result of scaffolding accidents can greatly be reduced.
If you have been injured on the job or as a result of a scaffolding accident, give our Massachusetts workers compensation lawyers a call for a free case consultation.