Know the Risks When Working on Scaffolding | Dreyer Boyajian LLP

What Are the Hazards of Scaffolding?

Working on scaffolding can be dangerous. Unfortunately, most scaffolding accidents are the result of companies’ and contractors’ failure to follow safety protocols. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), failure to follow scaffolding safety requirements is among the most common safety violations in the United States.

Why is working on scaffolding so dangerous, and why don’t more companies take adequate precautions to protect their workers? Here is an overview of some of the most common risks, safety violations, and injuries involved with scaffolding accidents.

Risks Associated with Working on Scaffolding

Working on scaffolding presents various dangers. As identified by OSHA, four of the biggest risks workers face when it comes to scaffolding are:

  • Falls from Elevation – Falls from elevation are among the leading causes of scaffolding-related accidents. As discussed below, falls often result from inadequate fall protection.
  • Scaffolding Collapses – Collapses caused by instability and overloading are also common causes of scaffolding-related accidents. Improper construction, improper maintenance, and various other issues can lead to dangerous collapses.
  • Being Struck By Falling Objects – Individuals who work on scaffolding face the risk of being struck by objects that fall from overhead. This includes building materials and debris, as well as tools dropped by other workers.
  • Electrocution – Electrocution is another risk for individuals who work on scaffolding. As OSHA explains, the primary risk involves coming into contact with overhead power lines.

These risks exist for workers who construct scaffolding and for those who perform their work while standing on scaffolding constructed by others. Similar risks exist for workers who use ladders, aerial lifts, and other equipment to access scaffolding and other elevated areas.

Common Scaffolding Safety Violations

Some accidents involving scaffolding occur through no fault of workers, contractors, or construction companies. In these cases, the primary option for injured workers to recover their losses is to file a workers’ compensation claim.

Other scaffolding accidents, however, are caused by inadequate safety precautions. In particular, the following safety violations are common factors in scaffolding accidents in New York:

  • Inadequate Fall Protection – Railings, harnesses, and other forms of fall protection are essential for protecting workers’ safety on scaffolding. However, many companies fail to provide these forms of protection to their workers. In doing so, they expose their workers to high risks for significant injuries.
  • Inadequate Safety Equipment – In addition to fall protection, other forms of safety equipment are essential for individuals who work on scaffolding. In particular, workers need helmets to reduce their risk of suffering serious injuries from falling tools, materials, and debris.
  • Inadequate Training, Supervision, and Inspection – Inadequate training and supervision are common factors in scaffolding failures. Failure to inspect scaffolding to ensure that it has been constructed properly and remains in good condition is a common factor as well.
  • Exceeding Scaffolding Weight Capacity – Just like ladders, aerial lifts, and other pieces of equipment, all types of scaffolding have weight limits. If a company allows (or encourages) workers to exceed scaffolding’s safe weight capacity, this can lead to a collapse resulting in serious injuries.

Common Injuries in Scaffolding Accidents

Scaffolding accidents often leave workers suffering from severe traumatic injuries. Carpenters, bricklayers, welders, painters, window washers, and others who work on scaffolding commonly suffer injuries including:

  • Arm and leg injuries (including injuries from attempting to brace for impact)
  • Bone injuries (including fractures and dislocations)
  • Eye and ear injuries (including vision impairments and tinnitus)
  • Organ damage (including punctured lungs and spleen injuries)
  • Severe cuts and bruises (including injuries requiring stitches or sutures)
  • Soft tissue injuries (including sprains, strains, and tears)
  • Spinal cord injuries (including nerve damage, slipped discs, and paralysis)
  • Traumatic brain injuries (including concussions and coup-contrecoup injuries)

Under New York law, if you have been injured due to a scaffolding hazard at work, you have clear legal rights. However, in order to assert these rights, you will need to seek representation from an experienced attorney.

Your attorney can help you file for workers’ compensation (if you are eligible) as well as investigate the accident to determine if you have the option to pursue any additional claims for damages. Depending on the circumstances involved in your accident, this could potentially include claims against a negligent contractor, property owner, scaffolding manufacturer, or other party.

Injured in a Scaffolding Accident at Work? Our Attorneys Can Help

Construction workers often find themselves performing jobs at heights. They depend on safe ladders, scaffolding, and other equipment to do these jobs. When scaffolds fail, the consequences can be catastrophic.

Dreyer Boyajian LLP has been handling construction accident claims for over 30 years. We understand the complexity in these cases, and our team is dedicated to identifying and pursuing all of your options for recovering fair compensation.

Please call (518) 463-7784 today for a free consultation with Dreyer Boyajian LLP. Our scaffolding accident attorneys serve clients throughout New York, including Albany, Schenectady, Troy, Saratoga Springs, and other areas.

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