Dangers in the Construction Industry
The construction industry is home to some of the most dangerous jobs in America, and scaffolding accidents are one of the ways in which construction workers can be severely injured.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the organization that maintains and enforces construction industry safety rules and regulations. By OSHA’s numbers, 2.3 million construction workers, or 65% of the construction industry, work on scaffolds. OSHA also reports that 4,500 injuries and over 60 deaths occur each year due to scaffold-related incidents.
How Scaffolding Injuries Happen
There are a number of ways in which scaffolding accidents occur. When the scaffolding is not manufactured or set up properly in the first place, that can send the scaffolding tumbling down.
Some scaffolding accidents are caused by the workers themselves. This can occur when a worker places too much weight at the top of the structure, or when supervisors fail to inspect the scaffolding to ensure that proper safety measures are in place. Crewmembers may not want to take the time to get on and off the scaffolding to re-lock it into place, but not doing so can lead to accidents.
In the fall of 2017, 11 people were injured in Dallas when scaffolding collapsed at a medical center construction jobsite. In this case, a 15-to-25 mph wind caught a tarp around the scaffolding and brought the entire structure to the ground. (WBAP News). In early 2018, a Dallas worker was killed on scaffolding when he was electrocuted by an overhead power line (CBS DFW). Clearly, working on a scaffold can put construction workers into a number of risky situations.
Common Scaffolding Accident Injuries
Most scaffolding accidents result in crewmembers falling from the scaffolding to the ground. The higher the person is on scaffolding when he falls, the more severe his injuries will be. In high falls, skeletal injuries, like a broken hip or arm, are common. Thoracic injuries, like broken ribs and lung bruising, are also common. Arguably the most serious, traumatic brain injuries and spinal injuries are also common after a fall from scaffolding; specifically, bleeding in the brain (subdural hematoma) and lumbar spinal injuries, affecting the hips and legs.
Essential Scaffolding Safety Precautions
The Texas Department of Insurance provides a very informative one-sheet checklist for scaffolding safety. Here are some of its basic safety precaution takeaways:
- Instruct all employees involved with or near the scaffolding to wear hard hats.
- Set up scaffolding on sound and rigid ground (so that it does not shift).
- Lock wheels after moving the scaffolding, every time.
- Ensure that there is a safe way to get on and off the scaffolding without climbing on the cross braces.
- Keep scaffolding away from electrical wires, meeting electrical safety clearance distances.
OSHA also provides detailed rules, regulations, and guides to practicing scaffolding safety at osha.gov.
Contact a Knowledgeable Dallas Scaffolding Accident Attorney
In the unfortunate event that you or a family member does suffer an injury in a scaffolding accident, a number of parties may be considered liable. Depending on the specifics of your accident, this could be the scaffolding manufacturer, the general contractor, and/or the landowner.
If those in control of the jobsite participated in a clear violation of OSHA safety regulations when the injury occurred, the violation will greatly help your injury claim. With or without a violation, you will need an experienced legal team to help prove negligence in maintaining a safe work environment.
Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP is well-versed in scaffolding cases, and will fight to get you compensation for medical bills and lost time that your employer and/or insurance company may be hesitant to provide. Call us today at (214) 231-0544 for a free consultation with a Dallas construction accident lawyer. We are here to discuss your claim and help you determine the appropriate next steps.