Scaffolding Hazards & Risk: How To Protect Your Team from a Scaffold Accident

2007 was the year that two brothers were involved in a deadly New York scaffold accident in the Upper East Side. A faultily constructed scaffold collapsed, sending the pair crashing 47 stories to the pavement below and their eventual deaths. Whether the window washing company they worked for had proper scaffolding insurance in place is not the issue but rather the types of safety training programs, including scaffolding training that may have possibly prevented these fatalities.

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Since the 2007 incident, there have been many other instances of problems with improperly constructed scaffolding, including when a construction worker in Midtown fell 80 feet to his death. These occurrences give rise to the need for better practices and safety training programs designed to enhance awareness and safety when working on highly constructed scaffolds.

Although scaffolding accidents, which is a risk that is inherent to working on these structures, may not necessarily be preventable, their severity may be lessened by recognizing the presence of the hazards and making sure the proper OSHA standards are being used on your job site.

Common Scaffolding Hazards

According to data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) based in Washington, D.C., there were 54 fatalities that occurred in 2009 from using scaffolding and staging incorrectly.

72 percent of workers injured in scaffolding accidents, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), claimed that the reason for their accident was the result of problems with planks or required scaffold supports giving way, which led to injury or death. Slipping from work platforms without proper fall protection and being caught between falling objects were also contributing causes to common scaffold-related accidents.

The data provided by both OSHA and BLS suggests that workers need to pay more attention to the safety standards set forth that help reduce and possibly prevent accidents from hazards related to scaffold use.

The demonstration of your team’s observance of these standards can also serve to lower any required insurance premiums you currently pay for scaffolding insurance or other related construction project insurance.

Get the Scaffolding Safety Checklist

Ways to Reduce Scaffolding Accidents

OSHA, which revised its standards regarding the construction of scaffolding in 1996, found that in a quarter of the cases where a scaffolding accident occurred, no scaffold training or safety training programs were in place. In more than three-quarters of these incidents, the scaffolding for which the worker was injured lacked appropriate guard railing or fall arrest systems.

Following prudent, common-sense standards for guaranteeing the safety and well-being of your employees working on scaffolding structures can only serve to lower and reduce injury and death. How important is it to follow the revised standards set forth by OSHA and other agencies when it comes to scaffolds?

The estimates suggest that up to 50 lives can be saved and more than 4,500 accidents prevented annually. The performance-based standards set in place to protect your employees from scaffold injuries and death can serve to protect them from those common scaffolding accidents such as falls, objects that may fall on your employees, scaffold structures that may be unstable, electrocution, and overloading the scaffolding structure.

What to Do When Scaffolding Accidents Occur

Should an accident occur on your job site related to scaffolding, you have an affirmative responsibility first and foremost to the health and well-being of the affected employee. You should ensure that immediate medical attention is given and all accommodations are made for the recovery of the accident victim.

You also need to address any issues with respect to your required workers’ compensation insurance, including the proper reporting of the accident. In most instances you have ten days from the date of the accident to notify your insurance carrier or face possible fines and penalties. You should have in place appropriate procedures for further guidance on your responsibilities related to scaffolding accidents.

You should make sure that whenever you are engaged in a project involving the construction of scaffolding that you follow those standards set forth by OSHA to ensure the safety of those working on the project and prevent, to the extent possible, any serious injuries or death as a result of an improperly installed scaffold. Look also to work with an experienced insurance advisor for the availability of those coverage options that can be used to mitigate your risk exposure and protect your financial resources.

Get the Scaffolding Safety Checklist

Scaffolding Safety & Insurance Plans

While there isn’t a guaranteed way to prevent all hazards from turning into potential accidents, you can make sure that you and your employees are properly trained and protected. Don’t leave your company at risk and contact the largest insurance broker of scaffold hazards in the country at Allied Insurance Brokers. With over 30 years of experience, the Allied team is able to help you minimize your company’s vulnerabilities and protect your bottom line. Contact Allied Insurance today, and discover what they can do for you!

*Allied does not deem this list as a complete and thorough listing of all scaffold safety issues and solutions, and does not recommend it be primarily relied on . It only highlights some common issues and resolutions. For a thorough overview, please contact Allied’s Risk Engineering Division.