Falls from heights, including scaffolding, are among the construction industry’s “Fatal Four,” according to Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). In fact, falls are the leading cause of death in construction accidents.
At Riddle & Brantley, our North Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys help injured workers in Raleigh, Jacksonville, Goldsboro, Kinston, and throughout Eastern North Carolina pursue the benefits they deserve after serious work-related scaffolding accidents.
Scaffolding Accidents in North Carolina’s Construction Industry
Various types of scaffolds are used in the construction industry, as reported by OSHA. Those types include planking, suspended scaffolds, supported scaffolds, and narrow frame scaffolds, often used in place of ladders. All types of scaffolding can be dangerous for workers if the required safety procedures are not taken and an accident occurs.
Recent tragedies in North Carolina expose the dangers. Three workers were killed and one was seriously injured when scaffolding collapsed at a construction site in Raleigh, as reported by The News & Observer. An exterior lift system tore away from the 11-story Charter Square building located on Fayetteville Street, which sent the scaffolding platform and workers to the ground.
Statistics on Scaffolding Accidents
OSHA reports that 65 percent of workers in construction use scaffolds – approximately 2.3 million people. The U.S. reports 4,500 injuries and more than 60 deaths every year from scaffolding accidents, according to OSHA. The cost to employers in workdays lost is estimated at $90 million a year.
Hazards in Scaffolding Accidents
OSHA revised the Safety Standards for Scaffolds used in the construction industry in 1996. These safety standards regulate the design, use, and construction of scaffolds to help protect workers from hazards such as falls, structural instability, falling objects, electrocution, and overloading.
As stated by OSHA, when scaffolding is not constructed or used properly, falls can occur. Scaffolding safety violations were listed as number one among OSHA’s top 10 most frequently cited construction industry violations.
Why Accidents Happen
OSHA safety regulations are in place to protect workers from harm. When these regulations are violated on constructions sites, workers face serious injuries or death. Federal statistics, as reported by OSHA, indicate more scaffolding accidents result from planking collapse than for any other reason. OSHA also states that nearly 25 percent of construction workers – or one in every four workers — get no safety training for installing work platforms or erecting scaffolds.
Preventing Scaffolding Accidents
Thousands of serious injuries and a number of fatalities could be prevented every year if OSHA safety regulations concerning scaffolding were followed. Those regulations require that:
- Scaffolding must be erected on solid footing and must be sound, rigid and able to carry its own weight plus four times the maximum intended load without settling or displacement.
- Unstable objects (barrels, boxes, loose bricks, or concrete blocks) must never be used to support scaffolds or planks.
- A trained and competent person must always supervise when a scaffold is erected, moved, dismantled or altered.
- Scaffolds must be equipped with fall protection — guardrails, mid-rails and toe boards.
- Damaged or weakened scaffold accessories such as braces, brackets, trusses, screw legs, or ladders, must be immediately repaired or replaced.
- Scaffold plank grade material or equivalent must be used to secure and tighten plank platforms.
- Scaffolding must be inspected and re-inspected at appropriate intervals by a trained and competent person.
- On suspension scaffolds, rigging must be inspected by a competent person before each shift and after any occurrence that could affect structural integrity to ensure that all connections are tight and no damage is present.
- Protection from heat-producing sources must be provided for synthetic and natural rope used in suspension scaffolding.
- Workers must be instructed regarding the hazards of diagonal braces used as fall protection.
- Scaffolds must be accessible by using ladders and stairwells.
- Scaffolds must always be a minimum of 10 feet from electric power lines.
How Riddle & Brantley Can Help
Injured workers or families of those who have died in on-the-job accidents should be able to easily collect full and fair workers’ compensation benefits. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and many workers injured in North Carolina find they need legal assistance with the workers’ compensation system.
At Riddle & Brantley, our practice is devoted to accident, injury, and disability matters. Our Raleigh workers’ compensation lawyers, which include two specialists certified by the North Carolina State Bar, have the knowledge, experience, and dedication to stand up for injured workers. If you have been seriously hurt or lost a loved one in a North Carolina scaffolding accident, contact our firm. You can rely on us for exceptional legal representation and dedicated advocacy.