Scaffolding Accidents: Causes and Prevention

Scaffolding Accidents: Causes and PreventionScaffolding is necessary for many job sites, especially in construction trades. It is very safe and secure when done properly, especially when all standards and regulations are maintained. Yet, over time, mistakes can occur, and a person may fall, which can lead to injury. Scaffolding accidents can cause injury to the worker as well as to anyone nearby – workers and bystanders alike.

Understanding the causes and the prevention options for scaffolding accidents may help you to protect yourself. At Cunningham & Mears, we understand that the losses from these types of incidents can be dramatic and life-changing. That is why we work hard with our clients to ensure they receive the highest level of care possible after such incidents. Let our Oklahoma City workers’ compensation attorneys help you if you were hurt.

What causes scaffolding accidents?

There are many potential causes of scaffolding accidents on construction sites. In some situations, it is not obvious what occurred or why it happened. Some of the most common causes include the following:

  • Unsafe scaffolding design. Since most scaffolding must be designed and set up to specific project requirements, errors in these estimations can put people at risk.
  • Poor manufacturing. If these systems are not made well and inferior materials are used, this can lead to accidents related to the manufacturing.
  • Improper support and securing. Most systems have numerous steps in place to minimize the risk of failure of the structural supports. If someone does not assemble them properly, that can lead to an unstable surface, causing injury risks.
  • Old or rotting systems. Scaffolding is nearly always metal, and over time it can wear down, rust, and become rotted, putting a person using them at risk of falls or injuries from falling materials.
  • Lack of overhead protection. Scaffolding typically needs to have overhead protection in place to protect people from falling objects. That includes nets and other systems to minimize a simple paintbrush falling to the ground and causing serious injury.
  • Missing guardrails. Scaffolding systems often require security measures, including guardrails, to minimize the risk of falls. If these are not in place or are weak, they can present a safety risk to anyone using them.
  • Poor maintenance. Scaffolding requires proper security from the moment the first component until the last item is snapped into place. If it is not maintained, cleaned, and cared for overall, it can be a safety risk.

There are many other potential causes for scaffolding accidents, such as failing mechanical components like breaks or bent components that create stress fractures in the system. Other times, a person may be negligent in the way they set up and maintain them, or someone may be acting recklessly on them.

Keep in mind that Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) laws provide very specific steps and strategies for individuals and companies to follow in the development and design, installation, and management of scaffolding. Any deviation from this puts workers and others near job sites at risk.

Preventing scaffolding accidents and injuries on and near OKC worksites

When accidents occur, reacting quickly and efficiently is important. Yet, the most important thing you, as a company owner, construction site manager, or employee, can do is prevent them from occurring. Prevention of accidents related to scaffolding simply focuses on strategies that can help protect you from unforeseen and unexpected failures of the system. That includes the following strategies:

Ensure proper safety equipment is used

Personal protective equipment may help to minimize risks associated with scaffolding accidents, including objects falling from heights. This includes wearing proper gear to be held in place while on scaffolding as well as hard hats to minimize the risk of falling objects injuries.

Maintain load limits

Most manufacturers provide very specific strategies and recommendations for using scaffolding systems. It is critical for companies to work to meet those recommendations. For example, you should know what the load limits are for each type of scaffolding being used on a job site. Not adhering to these limits can cause bending, breaking, and falls.

Meet local and federal regulations for use

Follow all regulations put in place by local and federal organizations for safety. These steps can seem redundant and, in some cases, may slow down the flow of work. Yet, they are there to offer protection and to minimize overall risks.

Build according to manufacturer guidelines

Another important factor is ensuring that scaffolding is built to the manufacturer’s recommendations. This often means ensuring that all bracing and fasteners are in place properly. It also means having someone go behind and double-check that the entire structure is safe. OSHA-approved training can help ensure that scaffolding builders are implementing safety recommendations when assembling these systems.

Protect the environment

It is also necessary to protect the surrounding area and the base of the scaffolding as well. That includes keeping vehicles out of the area. It may also mean helping to keep surfaces free from spills and ensuring that ample protections are in place for weather events. Should there be a significant weather event that puts risk on the system, it should be inspected afterward  to ensure the scaffolding is still safe.

Getting help after a scaffolding accident in Oklahoma City

Scaffolding is often a necessary component of any job site. With it, work can get done. Today, the rules and regulations for scaffolding are much different than decades ago. This is a good thing because it minimizes big risks to life and security.

At Cunningham & Mears, we work closely with clients who have suffered some of the most damaging of injuries from poorly installed or maintained scaffolding due to simple accidents and mistakes in use. No matter who is to blame, if you have experienced an injury, we want to talk to you and offer guidance to you in pursuing compensation from responsible parties.

Our team at Cunningham & Mears can help you to learn more about your options during a free initial consultation. Our Oklahoma City workers’ compensation attorneys will fight hard to protect your rights. Call our office or submit our contact form today.