Construction work can be very hazardous, especially when the work is performed off the ground at high levels on scaffolding. Not only do workers have safety risks that are already involved in construction projects, they also have the added danger of performing these tasks from elevated heights and on footing that can be unstable.
With an estimated 2.3 million construction workers using scaffolding each year in their jobs, many workers are injured every year and even lose their lives on this common construction site equipment. In 2009, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that 29% of fall deaths in the work place were from scaffolding or ladders, making the combined total the largest contributing factor to fall fatalities.
Types Of Scaffold Injuries
According to OSHA and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are an estimated 4,500 injuries and an average of 60 fatalities related to working on scaffolding each year. Many of these are related to falling; either the worker falling off the scaffolding or being hit with falling objects. Common scenarios that result in injuries on scaffolding include:
- Falling off scaffolding. When workers are not equipped with the correct safety equipment or training, there is an increased risk for falling from scaffolding. Non-use of safety harnesses, unsecured ladders and improper safety training contributes to the amount of injuries from falls off of scaffolding.
- Improperly assembled scaffolding. If scaffolding is not put together correctly, it can lead to many on-site injuries. The scaffolding can fail, causing falls and crushing accidents. There can also be injuries from pinched or crushed appendages from fittings that can cause additional startle injuries.
- Falling objects. Falling debris and equipment can be hazardous to workers on scaffolding. Not only to they risk injury from the falling object, they also may be knocked off of the scaffolding. There is also a risk of falling object off of the scaffolding onto workers below.
Scaffold Fall Injuries
Most injuries from heights such as scaffolding have what are referred to as axial load. This means there is force that is exerted along the lines of an axis, creating injury. Depending on how a person falls and lands from scaffolding and whether they hit anything else during the fall, can determine the type of injury they may sustain. Common axial load injuries are:
Head first. The most serious and deadly axial load injury starts from landing headfirst. The sustained head trauma often will cause death or severe traumatic brain or spinal cord injury.
The injuries sustained from a fall, if not fatal, can take months of recovery, some injuries permanent. This can mean loss of work, wages, medical costs and other financial hardships.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2011 there were 64 fatalities attributed primarily to scaffolding. The majority were construction workers, making up 56% of the deaths where scaffolding was the primary cause and all of the fatalities where it was the secondary cause. The second highest was in the service industry, accounting for almost a quarter of the fatalities.
Preventing Scaffolding Injuries
Many injuries and fatalities can be prevented when working on scaffolding by adhering to OSHA safety rules and regulations. By making sure the scaffolding is safe and secure along with the use of worker precautions and equipment, many injuries can be avoided.
- Scaffolding construction. Scaffolding should only to assembled by a qualified person and should be checked for safety as required. Weight limits need to be adhered to.
- Fall safety. Guardrails, properly secured ladders and worker restraints such as harnesses should be used.
- Falling debris. Use panels, netting and screens to protect workers from falling objects. Ban entry to area below scaffolding to reduce chance of workers or bystanders being hit by falling debris.
By following a few safety rules, scaffolding injuries can be lessened. It is the responsibility of construction management to ensure that their workers have the correct training, equipment and gear to make working on scaffolding as safe as possible.
Scaffolding Accident Injury Lawyers
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers has experience representing construction workers who have been injured in all types of scaffolding accidents. Our attorneys understand the stakes involving when a construction worker is injured and is unable to support his or her family. If you are looking for a scaffolding accident injury attorney who is committed to your case and seeing that you receive the best compensation possible, call our law office today for a free consultation. (888) 424-5757. Home, weekend and evening visits available.
Scaffolding Safety Resources: