Working on any job site comes with inherent risks. Those risks are instantly magnified when you bring that work up into the air. There are frequent accidents associated with working from scaffolding and unfortunately, due to the nature of the work, many times the injuries caused by these accidents are some of the most severe in the industry. According to the US Department of Labor statistics, about 2.3 million, or 65%, of construction workers will work from a scaffold in some capacity every year. Of that 2.3 million, approximately 4,500 will suffer some injury related to scaffolding and approximately 80 will suffer a fatal injury. It is important to work as safely and carefully as possible when doing any construction work, but, due to the increased risk, it is even more imperative to remain vigilant when working from scaffolding.
Most Common Scaffolding Accidents
According to statistics from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), the most common accidents involving scaffolding are the planking and/or support giving way, the worker slipping on the planking, or the worker being struck by a falling object. Most of these accidents can easily be avoided when everyone on the job site follows the safety guidelines laid out by OSHA in Subpart L, which is discussed in greater detail below. The downside here is that a worker’s actions may completely conform to the OSHA standards (for example you wore the proper Personal Protective Equipment or PPE and tied off where required), but the actions of someone else (for example the contractor responsible for setting up the scaffolding in the first place or a different trade working above you causing an object to fall) can still cause an accident to occur.
Avoiding Scaffolding Accidents
You can protect yourself from scaffolding accidents by following the guidelines and remaining on the lookout for any hazards that may exist on the job site, such as falling or about-to-fall objects, or scaffolding that seems loose or insecure. If you detect a hazard, stop work immediately and report the hazard to your supervisor, foreman, or steward. Regardless, until the hazard is addressed, do not attempt to work around it—the stakes are too high.
Guidelines Governing Safe Use of Scaffolding
The portion of the OSHA Act which deals with scaffolding standards is codified at 29 C.F.R. § 1926.450-1926.454, otherwise known as Subpart L. The various sections of Subpart L discuss the general standards for safe operation of scaffolding and aerial lifts, safety guidelines for specific types of scaffolding and aerial lifts, and training requirements for safe operation of scaffolds or aerial lifts. When viewed in conjunction with 29 C.M.R. § 1926.20 and other sections of the Act discussing general duties and responsibilities of the general/prime contractor on a job site, your rights are clearly delineated with regard to the provision of safe scaffolding from which to work. A violation of either section of the statute could lead to the breach of a duty owed to you. The attorneys at Keches Law Group are very knowledgeable as to these statutory requirements and the implications of any violations of them. If you think that your rights have been violated, we may be able to help.
Were You Involved in a Scaffolding Accident?
It is important that you or a coworker document the accident location as completely as possible (once you are safe and have any medical conditions stabilized). That may entail taking pictures of the accident scene before you leave the site, or having a coworker/friend snap a few cell phone pictures. It is amazing how quickly the condition can change once an employer realizes that somebody has been hurt. It is also important, when filling out the proper accident reporting forms, to mention the faulty scaffolding. It may also include collecting names and telephone numbers of any witnesses to the accident. It is important to create a paper trail as contemporaneously to the accident as possible.
Post-accident, if you do wish to pursue a claim, Keches Law Group may be able to help. Our experienced attorneys will first meet with you to talk about the accident and your injuries. We like to meet our clients in person so that we can best address your needs and provide the highest level of representation possible. If you are unable to come to us, we will come to you. Then we will get more information, such as your medical records, and send an investigator to the scene of the accident, collect witness statements, and take note of any accident report forms that may have been filled out and filed. We may also contact and consult with experts in construction safety and scaffolding. Throughout this process, we maintain constant contact with you, so that you know exactly what is going on in your case and what path lies ahead. Keches Law Group is one of the largest personal injury practices in Massachusetts, and we have our top attorneys working nonstop on these types of cases. We strive to give our clients the best of both worlds: a dedicated and personal relationship with our clients, like one might expect from a smaller practice, with the knowledge and experience of a large law firm. Please contact us so that we can discuss your unique case and address what rights you may assert.
If you were injured due to a scaffolding accident, contact Keches Law Group today. Call us at 617-898-0808, or visit our website and chat with us online.