Common Scaffolding Injuries
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Gregory H. Herrman with Herrman & Herrman, P.L.L.C..
Scaffolding plays an important role on construction sites, allowing workers to operate at elevated heights, constructing upper levels, and providing a place to store tools and materials for use. However, when scaffolds do not meet at least the minimum safety requirements for the industry, workers are put at increased risk of severe and even fatal falls. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has named falls as the leading cause of death for construction workers. In 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries reported 61 construction worker fatalities from scaffolding falls. However, workers also face the danger of unsecured tools and materials falling off the scaffolding from above. According to OSHA, 112 fatalities were caused by objects falling from scaffolding in 2017.
Common injuries sustained in scaffolding accidents include but are not limited to the following:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Spinal cord injuries (SCIs)
- Broken bones
- Internal damage
These injuries all have one thing in common—severity. Whether sustained from falling off scaffolding, an object falling off the scaffolding onto a worker, or even in a collapse of the scaffolding itself, scaffolding injuries tend to be severe if not life-threatening or even fatal.
It is important to seek medical care as soon as possible after sustaining any kind of injury in a scaffolding accident, even if it seems minor at first; some injuries may not be felt until days or even weeks after the accident. Additionally, it’s a good idea to take pictures at the scene of the accident and collect the contact information of anyone who might have witnessed the accident to document how the injury happened, even after the fact.
Employers are required to follow and enforce scaffolding safety standards.
Employers in any industry are required to provide for the basic safety of their employees, and in the case of construction workers, there are more hazards to account for than in other industries. Scaffolding is just one of the many elements of a construction site that are considered reasonably safe with proper attention to safety protocol, including following OSHA regulations. When a worker is injured in a scaffolding accident or otherwise on the job as a result of unavoidable circumstances or their own error, they may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits, including coverage for certain medical bills and lost wages during recovery.
However, if the injury occurred because an employer or third party did not provide and/or enforce reasonable safety measures, the worker may be eligible to file a personal injury claim in addition to receiving workers’ compensation benefits. The damages that can be sought in a personal injury claim tend to be more comprehensive than what workers’ comp benefits cover. That said, most workplace injury attorneys recommend filing for workers’ comp first before pursuing further litigation to ensure the injured party and their family begin receiving the help they need right away.
To learn more about scaffolding accidents or for evaluating your case after being hurt at work, reach out to a workplace injury attorney in your area.