Houston Scaffolding Accident Attorneys
Helping Workers Injured in Ladder Accidents & Scaffolding Falls
Scaffolding is a common sight in the construction industry. Scaffolding is a support system, much like a ladder, that allows workers to reach greater heights for the repair or construction of large buildings. The scaffolding is made up of a network of metal pipes with platforms for the workers to stand on while they are working. There are Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards in place to regulate scaffolding, so it is safe, yet falls from scaffolding is still one of the leading causes of injury and death in the construction industry today.
Statistics indicate that about 10,000 accidents each year involve scaffolding. Despite regulations, why do these accidents continue to occur? Scaffolding can be assembled improperly, for one. Workers that construct the scaffolding in haste risk making costly mistakes. Scaffolding should also be inspected before use, but failure to inspect thoroughly or inspect at all can also result in accidents. Many scaffolds do not even comply with OSHA standards at all. This is an example of a blatant safety violation, and it could warrant a company serious citations.
For more information and insight that applies to your unique scaffolding accident case, contact our Houston offices today.
What Is Scaffolding?
Scaffolding is a temporary structure used to support workers and materials at a construction site. Scaffolds are often made from timber or steel, although sometimes they are thrown together with leftover scrap materials. Scaffolding set-ups are frequently constructed without pre-planning, resulting in many unsafe structures.
There are many types of scaffolding, but the most common are:
- Supported Scaffolds - One or more platforms supported by outrigger beams, brackets, poles, or other types of rigid support. Variations include ladder jack, pump jack, frame, tube and coupler, mobile, specialty and pole supports.
- Suspended Scaffolds - Platforms suspended by ropes or other flexible supports from an overhead structure. Types of suspended scaffolds include multi-point adjustable, multi-level, needle beam, boatswain's chair, interior hung, catenary, single-point adjustable and two-point adjustable scaffolds. Of these, two-point adjustable (swing stage) is the most commonly employed.
- Aerial Lifts – Basket-equipped constructs used to work at higher elevations. Scissor aerial lifts are considered mobile scaffolding and are constructed with x-shaped braces that extend upward. As the braces rise, the platform attached to the braces rises, too, allowing workers to reach new construction areas. Aerial lifts are often used to replace scaffolding in maritime construction sites.
Protection for Workers from Falls
The basic mission of the OSHA is to implement regulations to keep workers safe at work. They do this by requiring employers to provide safe working conditions. When employers do not abide by these standards, they are disregarding the safety of their employees and can consequently be held liable if one of their employees falls from scaffolding. Employer negligence is one of the leading causes of workplace accidents.
Employers must provide employees with fall protection equipment. Per OSHA, fall protection must be provided when a worker is expected to work at the height of four feet or greater in regular work environments. Standards differ in certain industries. For example, shipyard workers must be equipped with fall protection at heights of five feet or greater. Construction workers must be equipped with fall protection at six feet or higher.
Employers are also required to provide floor guards in cases where there are holes in the floor. Floor guards are called "toe-boards" or simply "floor hole covers" in the construction industry. Platforms that are open-sided must have guardrails to decrease the risk of scaffolding falls as well. Loose decking is a common cause of accidents in construction. Although the OSHA requires construction sites to be equipped with secure decking on scaffolding, many workers frequently operate on scaffolding without decking or with decking that has not been properly installed. Decking is required to ensure secure footing so a worker does not lose their balance and fall. If a worker does fall, they should be wearing a fall harness. Fall harnesses are only required in certain situations, so be sure to check about the necessity of this protective gear.
Click here to view a complete list of OSHA fall protection standards.