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What Are Common Causes of Scaffolding Accidents in 2023?

Posted in Construction Accidents on August 2, 2023

Scaffolds are common settings for serious and deadly accidents in the construction industry. Although scaffolding is necessary at many construction sites, it can prove highly dangerous for workers and bystanders. In 2017, falls were the leading cause of construction worker fatal injuries, according to the Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). 10,000 construction workers are injured every year in scaffolding accidents. 72% of those scaffolding accidents were caused by planking or other support structures giving way, employees slipping, or employees being struck by falling debris. Unfortunately, these statistics show is that by simply following OSHA’s safety standards for scaffolding, nearly 50% of these scaffolding accidents could have been prevented.

The third most frequently cited OSHA standard violated in 2017 was scaffolding that failed to meet general requirements. Learning the most common causes of scaffolding accidents could help you prevent these tragedies.

common causes of scaffolding accidents

The General Main Causes of Deaths and Injuries on Scaffolds?

Scaffolds are necessary to allow construction workers to reach upper levels of buildings, store tools and materials, and have a stable working surface. It is up to the construction team to construct reasonably safe and stable scaffolds. The employer must train workers in putting together scaffolding and scaffolds according to OSHA’s regulations and industry best practices. Human error is the leading cause of scaffold-related deaths and injuries.

  • Poor scaffold or scaffolding construction. Unsafe scaffolds in their structure could lead to collapses, falls, falling materials and many other disasters. Workers have an obligation to obey all related OSHA laws and industry regulations during the construction of scaffolds. Failure to do so could lead to tragedy.
  • Careless or negligent workers. Overloaded scaffolds, unsafe scaffolding construction, failures at attachment points and other mistakes by employees contribute to many preventable scaffold accidents. All workers must do their parts to maintain reasonably safe scaffolding.
  • Falling objects, tools and debris. Improper securement of objects on a scaffold causes many injuries and deaths. Objects falling and striking workers was the second leading cause of death in construction in 2017, responsible for 112 worker fatalities. All workers should obey OSHA’s object securement regulations at all times.
  • Employer negligence. An employer could be guilty of a lapse that puts workers at risk, such as a lack of training, low-quality materials, no workplace rules and inadequate fall protection. It is generally the employer’s responsibility to maintain a safe workplace for construction workers.
  • Dangerous environments. Environmental conditions can contribute to scaffolding accidents. Rain and sleet, for example, could lead to slippery surfaces and fall accidents from scaffolds. Toxic gases in the work environment could also harm employees while working from scaffolds.

Identifying the cause of a scaffold accident, injury or death could point to someone else’s liability for damages. If an individual or company negligently contributed to the accident, that party could be financially responsible for a victim’s losses. Defendants in scaffold accident claims can include construction companies, employers, product manufacturers, contractors and property owners. To add specifics, below are common factors in scaffolding accidents that occur on construction sites.

Scaffolding accidents are commonly caused by negligence through third-parties such as those responsible for assembling the structure, maintaining the safety of the scaffolding, and even the manufacturer of the scaffolding when the accident occurred as a result of a design flaw.

The only way to determine who may be ultimately responsible for your scaffolding accident injuries is to speak to a Houston construction accident attorney with experience in scaffolding and other common construction accidents. Workers’ Compensation may not offer enough compensation for permanent or long-term injuries, so it’s important for you to understand what financial options are available to you during this difficult time.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured or killed in a Texas scaffolding accident, it’s vital for you to speak to an experienced construction accident lawyer. A qualified attorney can look at the specifics of your case, help you determine liability, and explain all of your legal options for recovering the compensation you need and deserve.

Top Causes of Scaffolding Accidents on Construction Sites

Scaffolding mishaps can occur for a number of reasons on a building site. Accidents like falls, partial falls (such having a leg fall through the planking or being saved by a harness), and being hit by things falling from above are included in this. The following are some of the most typical reasons for scaffolding accidents:

  1. Scaffolding safety regulations are disregarded by builders and construction firms. 

Numerous other problems, such as overloading scaffolding or positioning scaffolding too close to dangerous energy sources, can result in catastrophic and tragic accidents. Builders, building firms, other contractors, and subcontractors must all make sure that they properly abide by all applicable safety rules. OSHA has established extensive safety criteria for scaffolding.

  1. Inadequate Worker Training. 

Both building and using scaffolding require special training. Workers who build or erect scaffolding must receive training in the proper building techniques and safety regulations for the particular type of scaffolding they are erecting, and those who work on scaffolding must receive training in the particular dangers involved. Another of the top 10 construction site safety infractions, according to OSHA, is inadequate fall protection training.

  1. Improper scaffolding

Scaffolding-related incidents happen often for a variety of reasons. Scaffolding may fall within the definition of “defective” under Oregon or Washington law if it was badly manufactured or improperly designed (for example, if it lacks sufficient bracing or the steel tubing is compromised). Companies that created, produced, and sold the scaffolding may all be held accountable when a flaw in the scaffolding results in an accident.

4. Poor scaffolding design and construction

Scaffolding must be built correctly in order to be safe for usage, even if it is not defective. A significant cause of scaffolding accidents on construction sites is improper scaffolding construction, which can always be avoided with the right information and supervision (e.g., failing to securely fasten all attachment points, failing to build appropriate bracing, and failing to provide guardrails). The business that was in charge of building the scaffolding may be held liable if you or a loved one was hurt in an accident because it was built improperly.

5. Poor scaffolding upkeep (or failing to replace worn-out scaffolding)

Scaffolding’s structural integrity must be preserved through adequate maintenance. Old scaffolding will eventually need to be replaced. Inadequate upkeep can also result in slick surfaces and other safety risks that can cause life-threatening injuries.

6. Poor or insufficient planking

On all varieties of scaffolding, strong planking is a need for maintaining worker safety. Workers may be exposed to fall risks that could result in serious or fatal injuries due to weak or inadequate planking on scaffolding supported by manufactured frames, posts, mast climbers, pump jacks, and other devices.

7. Limited accessibility to safety equipment

Workers must still have access to the right safety equipment even when scaffolding is properly planned, manufactured, and built. Unfortunately, one of the main reasons for avoidable injuries and fatalities on construction sites is a lack of access to safety equipment, which is something that can be easily prevented. Due to numerous uncontrollable conditions, construction workers who are required to operate on scaffolding without sufficient fall protection run the danger of suffering serious harm.

8. Failing to safeguard employees from falling objects

Builders and construction firms are required to safeguard employees from accidents from falling objects in addition to safeguarding them from falls. To protect employees from falling equipment, building debris, or other objects, scaffolding should be covered as needed.

9. Working alongside incompetent, inexperienced, or careless workers

Working with people who lack training, experience, or who don’t take the safety concerns associated with their professions seriously can be exceedingly dangerous on a construction site. Particularly when working on scaffolding, coworkers’ errors might have severe repercussions. If another worker’s negligence resulted in an accident that injured you or a member of your family, that worker’s employer may be entirely responsible for your accident-related losses.

10. Working in dangerous circumstances

Changes in the weather can also be very dangerous when working at heights on the exterior of a partially completed building. In addition to making planking slick from rain and snow, drastic temperature swings can jeopardize connection points and perhaps cause loosening, cracks, and failures.

Numerous other problems, such as overloading scaffolding or positioning scaffolding too close to dangerous energy sources, can result in catastrophic and tragic accidents. Builders, building firms, other contractors, and subcontractors must all make sure that they properly abide by all applicable safety rules. OSHA has established extensive safety criteria for scaffolding.

How Can a Scaffolding Accident Be Prevented?

In one Bureau of Labor Statistics study, almost three-fourths (72%) of employees injured in scaffold accidents stated their injuries occurred due to planking giving away, slip and fall accidents, or falling objects. These are all preventable hazards with due care and attention to detail in the workplace. If every construction site supervisor and worker obeyed safety regulations and worked with caution, far fewer scaffolding accidents would occur. Reducing human error would save lives in the construction industry.

  • Properly training construction workers in how to erect scaffolding
  • Providing all appropriate safety gear and fall protection
  • Following OSHA’s scaffolding construction standards
  • Taking enough time to properly construct a scaffold
  • Obeying all laws related to tool/material securement
  • Inspecting scaffolding/scaffolds regularly for defects
  • Replacing old, worn-out or broken scaffolding materials

Safety regulations are in place for a reason. An employer should never encourage workers to cut corners or skip steps during scaffolding construction to save time or money. Workers should obey all scaffold-related rules in their construction and usage. Doing the responsible thing by obeying OSHA standards and workplace safety protocols could prevent scaffolding disasters. If a scaffold accident does cause injuries or deaths, victims or loved ones may bring civil claims against one or more parties for negligently causing or failing to prevent the catastrophe. A construction accident lawyer can help plaintiffs with these claims in Texas.