What are the Dos and Don’ts of Scaffolding Safety?
May 12, 2021
Many construction jobs involve building or repairing multistory structures. Temporary scaffolding is essential for positioning workers to perform this task. Working on scaffolding is difficult; however, if the proper scaffolding safety precautions are taken, it does not have to be dangerous.
Employers are responsible for preventing jobsite situations that expose workers to unnecessary dangers. Likewise, it is the duty of manufacturers of scaffolding equipment to provide products that are safe for use. Workers who are injured in scaffolding accidents have the right to seek full recovery of damages for any parties whose negligence may have contributed to their injury. The construction accident lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP are dedicated to helping injured workers regain financial security after an accident. We have extensive experience navigating the Workers’ Compensation process as well as pursuing additional damages in third-party injury claims.
What are the Dos and Don’ts of Scaffolding Safety for Employers?
Employers bear responsibility for procuring the right type of scaffolding for the job and promoting safety on the job site. Scaffolding dos and don’ts for employers include but are not limited to the following:
- DO follow the guidelines of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding the height, width, and other specifications when purchasing and erecting scaffolding.
- DO read all manuals and instructions provided by the scaffolding supplier before use.
- DO follow all state and local safety codes regarding the use of scaffolding.
- DO inspect all scaffolds daily or at the beginning of every shift.
- DO survey the jobsite each day for hazards such as power lines, ditches, and debris.
- DO provide safety training for all workers who will be using the scaffolding.
- DO provide proper guardrails, midrails, and toe boards for all scaffolding platforms.
- DO install all scaffolding accessories according to the manufacturers’ instructions.
- DON’T use any scaffolding parts that are bent or damaged. Return them immediately to the manufacturer.
- DON’T use lumber that is not properly inspected and graded as scaffold planking.
- DON’T erect scaffolding near power lines without consulting the power company for advice.
- DON’T use ladders or other makeshift devices to increase the height.
- DON’T exceed the scaffolding manufacturer’s recommended load limits.
- DON’T instruct employees to work on scaffolds in storms or high winds.
What are the Dos and Don’ts for Workers Using Scaffolding?
The following dos and don’ts are applicable for workers who must perform tasks on scaffolding.
- DO follow all safety guidelines provided by employers.
- DO make sure scaffolding is level or plumb before working on it.
- DO report to the employer any unsafe conditions regarding scaffolding.
- DON’T climb bracing.
- DON’T move a rolling scaffolding without sufficient help.
- DON’T ride on a rolling scaffold.
- DON’T work on scaffolding while under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs.
- DON’T use the scaffolding for a purpose other than that for which it is intended.
Although workers must take precautions and use common sense to avoid accidents, ultimately the employer is responsible for ensuring a safe working environment. OSHA guidelines require employers to provide adequate safety training to all workers who are involved in any aspect of erecting, disassembling, moving, operating, repairing, maintaining, or inspecting scaffolds.
How Do OSHA Guidelines for Scaffolding Help Prevent Injuries?
Understanding and following OSHA scaffolding guidelines is the first step in preventing injuries. OSHA guidelines for scaffolding help prevent injuries by ensuring that the scaffolding is soundly constructed, properly erected and inspected, and that employees have been provided adequate training. OSHA guidelines focus on the following areas:
- Fall protection or arrest systems. Generally, workers preforming tasks more than 10 feet above a lower level must be provided with fall protection or fall arrest systems.
- Top rails for scaffolds must meet or exceed minimum height requirements.
- Midrails must be installed halfway between the top rail and the platform surface.
- Cross-bracing. When the cross-point of cross-bracing is used as a top rail, it must be between 38 and 48 inches above the work platform.
- Footings. Scaffold footings must be level and capable of supporting the loaded scaffold.
- Scaffolds must be constructed so they are able to support at least four times the maximum intended load.
- Employers must provide adequate safety and hazard training for all employees who are require to work on, erect, dismantle, or inspect scaffolding.
- An employee who is capable of identifying potential hazards must inspect scaffolding at the beginning of each shift.
- Erecting and dismantling. An employee must also determine how to provide fall protection and a safe means of access when erecting and dismantling scaffolding.
According to a study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than 70 percent of scaffolding injuries were caused when workers slipped or were struck by a falling object, or when the planking or support gave way. These types of accidents can be avoided when scaffolding is constructed according to OSHA guidelines.
What Should I Do If I am Injured in a Scaffolding Accident on the Job?
Workers who are injured in a scaffolding accident on the job should seek medical treatment and alert their supervisors as soon as possible. Notifying employers of an injury is the event that triggers the process of obtaining Workers’ Compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation can help pay for lost wages and medical expenses. Injured workers should also contact a qualified construction accident lawyer who can help determine whether third parties other than the employer may be held responsible for the accident. For example, if the scaffolding equipment is found to be defective, the scaffolding manufacturer may be deemed negligent and therefore liable to pay additional damages. In some cases, employers who have violated established safety regulations may also be held accountable for additional damages.
The following examples illustrate how the construction accident lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP have helped injured workers seeking recovery of damages after a scaffolding accident.
Construction worker suffers fatal injuries from scaffolding accident. A 51-year-old worker fell from a scaffold built by his employer. He died of the injuries he sustained from the fall. The construction accident lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP were able secure $900,000 in recovery damages for his family on third day of trial in action against the construction manager.
Construction worker suffers bulging disk, lumbar injuries while working on scaffolding. The worker was performing tasks on a scaffold that collapsed and fell to the ground. As a result of the accident, the worker endured physical injuries as well as a fear of heights, which limited his ability to find employment. The construction accident lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP investigated the circumstances of the accident and obtained a $445,000 settlement from the scaffold manufacturer.
It is important for injured workers to know that filing a third-party claim does not affect their Workers’ Compensation benefits. Third-party claims allow injured workers to recover damages that are not paid for by Workers’ Compensation, including pain and suffering and any damages suffered by a spouse.
Philadelphia Construction Accident Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP are Committed to Helping Injured Workers Restore Their Dignity and Financial Security
Construction workers are often required to perform difficult tasks on scaffolding and other elevated surfaces. Employers are required by law to provide safe work environments. Despite this, thousands of jobsite accidents happen each week in the United States. Some of these incidents are a result of negligence on the part of manufacturers, property owners, and other third parties. If you or someone you know has been injured on the job, contact the Philadelphia construction accident lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP. We understand the financial pressures that injured workers face after a serious accident, and we are committed to helping hard-working individuals and their families rebuild their futures. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or contact us online. From our offices in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, we proudly serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Allentown and Harrisburg.