Keep Construction Workers from the Danger of Scaffold Collapse

The Law Offices of Ronald J. Resmini, LTD, says that millions of Americans make their living by working on construction sites. Working these jobs usually requires a huge amount of physical labor and dangerous circumstances. Construction workers often operate from elevated heights and use heavy machinery, both of which are potentially dangerous. The construction companies that employ these workers are responsible for making sure conditions are as safe as possible, machinery is functioning normally, and structures are stable. Unfortunately, many companies neglect this responsibility, putting their workers lives and well-being at risk. When construction workers are working in unsafe conditions, operating malfunctioning machinery, or working from unstable structures, the likelihood of a construction accident greatly increases.

The law firm Hach & Rose, LLP says that the most common types of accidents in construction sites that result to injuries include:

  • Falling Hazards. Construction sites often contain materials and equipment on scaffolds and rooftops. If not properly secured, these objects can fall onto workers below, potentially causing traumatic brain injury (TBI) accidents, other serious injuries and accidents, or even death.
  • Unsafe Work Site. Construction sites require constant maintenance in order to prevent worker accidents. If this important maintenance is not done, construction sites can pose serious hazards to the health and safety of workers. Debris and equipment, for instance, can cause slip and fall accidents if left out in the open, potentially causing workers to suffer neck or spine injuries, broken bones, head injuries, or even death.
  • Scaffolding Problems. Faulty scaffolding can lead to catastrophic injury accidents or death. Even in less serious circumstances, scaffolding accidents may permanently affect a worker’s ability to earn a living wage.
  • Vehicle Accidents – Forklifts, cranes, and other construction vehicles can harm workers if not used or maintained properly. Injuries that vehicle accidents may cause include broken bones, dismemberment, and death.
  • Crane Collapse Accidents – Cranes can cause devastating accidents due to cargo loss or total collapse. Crane collapse accidents may be entitled to financial compensation beyond workers’ comp in order to cover the full extent of their damages.

All types of working environments should be kept healthy and safe for all workers/employees. Ensuring a safe and healthy workplace is the duty of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Due to this, employers should make sure that they hire only qualified employees, that all employees are trained on how to keep their workplace safe and about the use/operation of dangerous tools and hazardous substances, that standard safety equipment can be found in designated places, and that employees are provided with safety gears and that these are properly worn in work areas.

The 1971 regulation on the requirements regarding the use of scaffolds is one way OSHA wants to make sure that construction workers are kept from the danger of accidents. Scaffolds are provisional work platforms used in construction work. These provide support for the workers and the materials they use. Some scaffolds are self-supporting, meaning these are supported by poles or frames solidly positioned on the ground. Others are called “suspension” scaffolds since these are supported with pulleys and ropes from overhead. Whether built from the ground or suspended from overhead, the greatest danger facing workers is scaffolding collapse, a consequence of scaffolds not properly assembled or if the number of workers and the weight of materials on the scaffold are too much for it to support. For added worker support, OSHA also requires the incorporation of guardrails to which workers can hold onto in cases of slips.


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Addressing Workplace Injuries: Fall Prevention

Falls from height, slip-and-falls, and force-rotation falls are all types of falls that happen in most workplaces, and remains the top cause of workplace injuries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that more than 200,000 workers were seriously injured and 605 killed in 2009 from falls. Workers’ compensation benefits for fall-related workplace injuries alone cost $70 billion each year in the US, and the situation is similar to what is happening in other countries. Fall prevention should therefore be a top priority for employers and employees alike.

This is especially true for those in construction, where the incidence of deaths related to falls is particularly high. Non-fatal fall injuries are most common in the wholesale and retail industries as well as in health services, where incidents occur in transportation, material moving, building cleaning and maintenance, and health care.

The most common cause of workplace injuries related to falls is uneven, slippery, or disorderly walking areas. It could be a hole in the floor, sharp edges, an awkwardly placed ladder, or a wet surface. The lack or misuse of safety gear is also associated with the frequency of fall-related injuries and fatalities. The federal government has imposed rules and regulations for safety standards for all industries, but if these are not followed, fall prevention remains an untested concept.

The development and implementation of fall prevention strategies have to be a concerted effort, involving not only the government and employers but also occupational health researchers, professional associations, labor union, industry leaders, and employees. A safe working environment does not happen by accident; it needs to be a deliberate and consistent application of a culture of safety.

Unfortunately, the safety initiatives are often set aside in the pursuit of profit. Only by holding those responsible accountable for their negligence can workers assure that the workplace is a reasonably safe environment to be in. If you have been injured in a fall-related or other workplace accident because your employer or other third party failed to follow safety regulations, it is your duty to address the issue. If you decide that filing a personal injury lawsuit is the best way to bring home the need for ensuring safety in the workplace, consult with a qualified legal professional in your area to assist you in achieving your goal.

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