Millions of American workers in the construction industry perform their jobs on scaffolds. Unfortunately, builders and construction companies do not always follow all necessary safety protocol to keep their employees out of harm’s way. Although scaffolding accidents are preventable, they are more common than many people realize. The injuries that can be suffered in scaffolding accidents can be severe and life-altering for workers and their families. In the most devastating cases the outcome of a scaffolding accident can be fatal.
A scaffold is a temporary work platform used by over 2 million workers in about 65 percent of the construction industry. Construction workers use scaffolds to elevate themselves, equipment, and materials. When these complicated systems of metal of aluminum pipes are not used properly, the consequences can be deadly.
What are Common Causes of Scaffolding Accidents?
Although there are ways to stay reasonably safe when working on scaffolds, there are numerous issues that can lead to scaffolding accidents on construction sites. Some of the most common causes of scaffolding accidents include the following:
- Defective scaffolding: A high number of scaffolding accidents are the result of a problem with the scaffolding itself. If scaffolding is improperly designed, manufactured, or assembled, it can be considered defective and dangerous. When a scaffolding defect causes an accident and subsequent injury, the companies that designed, manufactured, and sold the scaffolding may all potentially be held liable.
- Improper scaffolding maintenance: It is important that scaffolding be properly maintained in order to preserve its structural integrity and prevent scaffolding accidents. Failure to replace old scaffolding and inadequate maintenance can lead to safety hazards that often result in serious injuries. Slipping or tripping on scaffolding due to factors such as slippery surfaces or lack of guardrails is also a common occurrence that can have serious consequences.
- Inadequate planking: Sturdy planking is essential to protect workers on all types of scaffolding. Scaffolding is supported by fabricated frames, posts, mast climbers, pump jacks, and other mechanisms. If planking on scaffolding is weak and inadequate, workers can be exposed to fall risks that result in severe or fatal injuries.
- Poor work training: The construction of scaffolding and working on scaffolding both require specific training. Workers who erect scaffolding must be properly trained in the construction methods and safety standards of the specific type of scaffolding. Equally as important is employees who work on scaffolding must be properly trained on the specific risks involved. According to OSHA, inadequate training regarding fall protection is a common construction site violation.
- Inadequate access to safety equipment: Scaffolding accidents can occur even when scaffolding is properly designed, manufactured, and constructed. Therefore, it is crucial that construction workers be provided access to appropriate safety equipment. Lack of access to safety equipment is a leading cause of preventable injuries and fatalities on construction sites. When construction workers are forced to perform their jobs on scaffolding without adequate fall protection, they can face extreme risks and potentially fatal injuries.
- Failure to protect workers from falling objects: Builders and construction companies are also required to protect workers against injuries from objects that can fall from overhead. Falling tools, construction materials, debris, and other dangerous objects can cause serious injuries for construction workers. Scaffolding should be covered whenever possible and necessary to prevent these injuries.
- Negligent co-workers: Many individuals work alongside each other on construction sites. Co-workers who are untrained or unexperienced, or are careless about safety risks, can cause dangerous circumstances. A co-worker’s mistake when working on scaffolding can have severe consequences. When a worker or family member is involved in a scaffolding accident caused by another worker’s negligence, then that worker’s employer may be fully liable for the accident-related losses.
- Ignoring safety standards: OSHA has established extensive and thorough safety standards for scaffolding, which builders, construction companies, contractors, and sub-contractors must comply with. In addition, many private organizations publish scaffold safety standards. When established and applicable safety requirements are not followed, multiple issues can lead to serious or fatal scaffolding accidents. Examples of these dangerous issues include overloading scaffolding and placing scaffolding too close to hazardous energy sources.
What Are Common Scaffolding Accident Injuries?
As scaffolds are used to access significant heights, many scaffolding accidents result in serious injuries or death. A fall from the height of a scaffold, whether it be due to an incorrectly maintained platform or a lack of proper safety gear, can result in a devastating outcome.
There are numerous injuries that can result from scaffolding accidents, some of which include:
- Broken bones and fractures
- Head trauma or traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Joint, muscle, and tendon injuries
- Lacerations and scarring
- Soft tissue injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
Individuals other than workers can be seriously injured in scaffolding accidents. Pedestrians and visitors to a construction site can be serious harmed or even killed when scaffolding collapses or objects fall from their great heights.
What Should I Do After Being Injured in a Scaffolding Accident?
It is highly advisable to seek legal counsel from an experienced construction accident lawyer if you or a loved one has been involved in a scaffolding accident. Following a scaffolding accident on a construction site, it important to discuss your rights with a knowledgeable construction accident lawyer who can help you navigate what can be a complex legal process. Additionally, if you lost a loved one due to a scaffolding accident on a construction site, it is essential to consult with a dedicated construction accident lawyer. You may be eligible for and other benefits to help you manage expenses and loss.
An experienced construction accident lawyer will know how to negotiate with insurance carriers and other representatives, investigate the accident site, consult with experts, and help you understand why the accident happened. It is important that you have a skilled construction lawyer to work with you and pursue the fair compensation you need and deserve. Going through the necessary steps after a devasting scaffolding accident can be overwhelming and complicated. Having a construction lawyer to assist with the necessary details of your case will allow you to recover from your physical injuries and emotional trauma.
Wilmington Construction Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Advocate for Injured Clients
If you have been injured because of a construction accident, whether as a worker, bystander, or family member, you will want an experienced Wilmington construction accident lawyer at Rhoades & Morrow to assist with filing all necessary claims so that you can be compensated for the damages and loss you suffered. Call us today at (302) 427-9500 or contact us online for a free consultation. With offices in Bear, Milford, and Wilmington, we serve clients throughout Delaware.