There are about 10,000 scaffolding injuries every year, with an average of 87 deaths caused by falling. The majority of these deaths and injuries are caused by preventable accidents – accidents caused by negligent construction and inadequate maintenance of scaffolding. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has very strict regulations for scaffolding, outlining safe assembly and use. Following these rules could prevent most scaffolding accidents, but it also means more short-term expense for construction companies, and more time and effort on the part of workers who must assemble and inspect the equipment.
Scaffolding is a temporary, elevated work surface. It may be only a few feet high, or hundreds of feet above the ground. Scaffolds fall into two main categories, supported or suspended.
Types of supported scaffolding as defined by OSHA:
- Frame Scaffold or Fabricated Frame: Platform(s) supported on fabricated end frames with integral posts, horizontal bearers, and intermediate members.
- Manually Propelled/Mobile: Unpowered, portable, caster- or wheel-mounted supported scaffold.
- Pump Jack: Platform supported by vertical poles and movable support brackets.
- Ladder Jack: Platform resting on brackets attached to ladders.
- Tube and Coupler: Platform(s) supported by tubing, erected with coupling devices connecting uprights, braces, bearers, and runners.
- Pole: Posts with fixed connection points that accept runners, bearers, and diagonals that can be interconnected at predetermined levels.
- Specialty: Scaffold types designed for a narrow and very specific range of applications. Includes plasterers’, decorators’, and other large-area scaffolds; bricklayers’ square scaffolds; horse scaffolds; outrigger scaffolds; step, platform, and trestle ladder scaffolds; form and carpenter’s bracket scaffolds; window jack scaffolds; crawling boards and chicken ladders; and roof bracket scaffolds.
- Other scaffolds, principally manlifts, personnel hoists, etc., which are sometimes thought of as vehicles or machinery, but can be regarded as another type of supported scaffold
Types of suspended scaffolding as defined by OSHA:
- Two-point (swing stage): Platform supported by hangers (stirrups) suspended by two ropes from overhead supports and equipped with a means to permit the platform to be raised and lowered.
- Single-point Adjustable: Platform suspended by one rope from an overhead support and equipped with a means to permit the platform to be moved to desired working levels.
- Catenary: Platform supported by two essentially horizontal and parallel ropes attached to structural members of a building. Additional vertical pickups may also provide support.
- Multi-point Adjustable: Platform(s) suspended by more than two ropes from overhead supports and equipped with a means to permit the platform to be raised and lowered. Includes chimney hoists.
- Interior Hung: Platform suspended from the ceiling or roof structure by fixed-length supports.
- Needle Beam: A platform suspended from needle beams.
- Multi-level: Two-point or multi-point adjustable suspension scaffold with a series of platforms at various levels resting on common stirrups.
- Float (ship): Braced platform resting on two parallel bearers and hung from overhead supports by ropes of fixed length.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, “In a Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) study, 72% of workers injured in scaffold accidents attributed the accident either to the planking or support giving way, or to the employee slipping or being struck by a falling object. All of these can be controlled by compliance with OSHA standards.” Several of the OSHA required components are commonly left out of scaffolding. These include:
- Work Platform Decking
- Side Brackets
- Guard Railing
- Base Plates
- Mud Sills
- Scaffold Ties
- Fastening Pins
The extreme height often attained on scaffolds elevates the risk of falling and injury, even when the scaffolding itself is sound. Scaffolding accidents can cause serious or even fatal injuries, from any height. Common scaffolding accident injuries include:
- Brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Neck and back injuries
- Broken bones and fractures
If you or a loved one has been injured in a scaffolding accident, contact anexperienced construction accident attorney today.