When you are working in the construction industry, you are likely to be working on a scaffold some or most of the time. They can be useful in building and repairing, as there are many types of scaffolding, but they can also pose a great danger to the individuals standing on them.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, scaffolds accounted for 14 percent of fatal falls. This does not count the number of falls that resulted in non-fatal injury, which could increase the percentage dramatically. Why are scaffolds so dangerous? What are the main hazards that construction workers face when using scaffolds?
Falls from height
Injury resulting from this type of hazard is easily the most common. One can easily slip or trip off a scaffold, causing them to fall off. It may surprise you that you can face serious injuries from a fall even if you are not that high up, which is why OSHA requires fall protection to be available at ten feet.
If the scaffold planks break or give way, they could send someone who is standing on them falling to the ground. Having too much weight or using faulty materials in scaffold construction can create collapses at a greater frequency. Ensuring that workers inspect scaffolds often and they are not bearing too much weight can help avoid a tragic accident.
Struck by object
Sometimes, workers on a scaffold can be injured by other objects that unintentionally strike them. For example, falling debris from above, swinging or moving machinery or poorly stacked materials can all cause serious injury. This is especially problematic on a narrow scaffold because someone does not have the space to get out of the way.
Electrocution is a hazard that a worker may not regularly think about as a possible hazard, but these types of injuries do happen. When someone is up in the air or moving a scaffold, there is the possibility of coming in to contact with live power lines.
What to do if you have sustained a scaffold injury
If one of the hazards above causes you injury while working on a scaffold, you should let your employer know immediately. You may be able to receive compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, as well as pain and suffering.