Scaffolding is a necessary—yet, dangerous—part of many construction projects. While there are different types of scaffolds, all scaffolds are temporary platforms that are off the ground. This creates serious risks of injury for construction workers who are trying to do their job safely.
Causes of Scaffolding Accidents
Scaffolding accidents happen in a variety of ways, including:
- Faulty scaffolding. In many cases, the scaffold does not meet accepted safety guidelines. When this happens, the construction worker who is hurt may bring a third-party liability claim against the scaffold manufacturer.
- Negligent supervisors. Under New York Labor Law 240, general contractors are liable for gravity-related accidents under their supervision.
- General accidents. Some accidents are simply accidents, and no one is apparently at fault. While many of our clients come to us thinking they do not have a claim, our lawyers have decades of experience uncovering viable claims from accidents where it seems that no one is at fault.
Any of these causes can result in a serious accident injury such as broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, or death.
Different Types of Scaffolding Accidents
There are four main types of scaffolding accidents, according to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). These accidents include:
- Falls. Since scaffolding is elevated, proper fall protection must be in place to prevent workers from tripping or slipping off of the scaffold.
- Collapses. Scaffolding that is not properly installed or supported may collapse and cause all of the workers on the scaffold platform to fall with the platform. A collapse may also occur if the weight on the scaffold exceeds safety limits or if the load is unbalanced.
- Getting hit by falling objects. Anything that is accidentally dropped or that falls off of a scaffold above can result in an injury for workers below. This could include equipment and debris, for example.
- Electrocution. This is a particular risk if there are overhead wires near the scaffolding.
Additionally, construction workers who work on scaffolding face many of the same construction accident risks that they face on the ground.
Some Scaffolding Accidents Are Preventable
Employers should take reasonable steps and comply with all applicable local, state, and federal regulations to try to prevent scaffolding accidents. For example, the employer should:
- Use proper fall-arrest systems.
- Use guardrails.
- Respect weight limits of scaffolding and not load too much equipment or too many people onto the platform.
- Provide a net or canopy to catch things that fall from the scaffold.
- Barricade off an area under the scaffold.
Additionally, employers should complete regular safety checks to make sure that the scaffold meets all of OSHA's safety requirements.
Get the Help You Deserve After a Scaffolding Accident
After a scaffolding accident, it is important to seek the help of a lawyer right away to secure your right to obtain compensation and to preserve the essential evidence in your case.
Scaffolding accident recoveries are not the same as other types of construction accident recoveries. In New York, there is a special law that applies specifically to scaffold accidents. The New York scaffolding law allows construction workers who have been hurt in scaffolding accidents to sue the person or company responsible for their injuries. In other words, you may be able to recover damages from a personal injury lawsuit instead of through workers’ compensation insurance.
The construction accident attorneys at Hofmann & Schweitzer have been helping construction accident victims since 1977. In that time, we have created a remarkable track record of success and a reputation for exceptional client care throughout the five boroughs of New York City.
Even if you do not think you have a case, talk with a lawyer from our firm today if you have been hurt or if you have lost a loved one in a scaffold accident. We will do in-depth research, give you an honest, accurate assessment of your case, and fight to recover the compensation that you deserve.