In 2016, OSHA gave 3,900 citations to employers for improper scaffolding practices. They ranked third among OSHA violations that year, and the situation has not changed all that much since then. Scaffolding accidents continue to be a common source of injury among construction workers in Virginia and across the U.S. Of the 2.3 million construction workers who use scaffolding regularly, about 4,500 are injured every year. About 60 are killed.
Deficient platforms and falling are to blame for 72 percent of all scaffolding injuries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, so it’s important to maintain safe scaffolding. This means, for instance, erecting scaffolding on solid footing and not supporting them with concrete blocks, barrels, boxes or other unstable objects. It must carry its own weight plus four times the maximum intended load without the risk for displacement.
Regular inspections are essential. Employers should have a competent person conduct these. Rigging should be inspected before every shift and after every incident that might have affected the structural integrity. A competent person should also supervise the building, moving, dismantling and altering of scaffolding.
Scaffolds should be equipped with guardrails, midrails and toe boards. Ladders and stairwells should be used to access them. If any of the ladders, braces, brackets, trusses or screw legs are damaged, one should immediately repair them.
Employees injured through scaffolding accidents should know that they may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. They could receive them over time or settle for a lump sum payout. Before that, though, they may face the possibility of their claim being denied because employers may accuse them of causing the accident through their own fault. This is why hiring a lawyer might be a good idea. A lawyer may assist with the appeal. If successful, victims might be reimbursed for medical bills and a portion of lost wages.