Scaffold Tragedy Another In Long Line Of Construction Accidents
The Boston Herald reported recently that a 54-year-old worker tragically died after falling from scaffolding. The man was working on the gutters of a home in suburban Boston when he fell approximately 20 feet. When police and emergency personnel arrived, the man was unconscious, unresponsive, and suffering from obvious head trauma. The man was rushed to the hospital but died an hour later. The Occupations Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) commenced an investigation into why the man fell to his death. Local and state police are also investigating. Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law have vast experience representing injured workers and their families who suffered a workplace injury or death.
OSHA fights to keep workplaces safe in the United States. The agency investigates work-related injuries and fatalities, including falls from scaffolding. Falls from scaffolding and staging account for a significant number of injuries annually. In one study, OSHA found that approximately 25% of all scaffold and staging related injuries occurred as a result of lack of training by their employer. Additionally, 77% of all scaffolds do not have guardrails installed. OSHA estimates that 50 lives and be saved annually and 4,500 workplace injuries prevented if employers and employees received proper training and remained in compliance with OSHA safety standards.
The construction industry uses three styles of scaffolds. Each has its particular use. Scaffolds may be supported by rigid legs such as poles or metal frames. A suspended scaffold is held in place by ropes or other mechanism reaching from the top of a building over the side. Also, the last scaffold structure is an aerial lift. An aerial lift commonly has wheels, allowing the worker to be mobile and move the platform while using it. No matter what type of lift is being used, the person responsible for inspecting the scaffold must be cognizant of environmental factors. Employers should not permit employees to use these structures in high winds, heavy rain or snow.
Using scaffolding or staging presents unique safety challenges. According to OSHA, workers and their employers must make sure that the scaffolds are constructed properly by a trained professional before use. That means the frame must be solidly constructed as well as the planking upon which the workers will walk. The trained professional should also make a close inspection of the apparatus before each use to ensure that no defects are present. Also, workers must be sure not to overload the scaffold with weight. A load that is too heavy for the scaffolding will tip the structure or will cause the planking to collapse and give way. Employers must use fall preventing mechanisms such as ropes and tie-offs to prevent falling if one portion of the scaffolding gives way.
Workers using scaffolding must guard against falling debris. A tent or canopy must be used if other work is being performed above the structure. A tent or canopy will deflect falling debris away from the people on the scaffold. Also, areas below the planking should be cordoned off to prevent people from walking underneath. Using panels or screens around the scaffolding will also help to contain debris.
Electrocution is another hazard from which construction workers must protect themselves. Workers must be absolutely certain that there is sufficient clearance between the scaffold and live wires. If possible, the lines should be turned off. Additionally, the platform should be covered with the appropriate material to prevent electrocutions.
Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law has been representing those who suffer serious injuries throughout all of Georgia and in the Southeast for over thirty-three years, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. Call Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law for your free consultation today.
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