Scaffolding Accidents Most Common Safety Problem among Construction Workers

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Construction workers frequently work on scaffolding. It is easy to lower one's guard when one becomes familiar with working on scaffolding, but proper precautions are recommended and are required by law. Accidents or fines can delay a project and can disrupt construction workers' salary flow.

A construction accident on May 6 in Queens, NY, is causing building and construction officials to re-emphasize safety regulations in the industry.

A construction worker fell about 30 feet to his death from a scaffold on the Triborough Bridge in Queens, according to the New York Times. The accident occurred after an aerial crane bucket lifted the construction worker onto metal scaffolding on a section of the bridge. Witnesses said that the worker lost his footing on the scaffold and fell to the pavement below. He was taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center, where he died a few hours later, the bridge agency said. The victim’s identity was not immediately released.



The Times reported that witnesses who found the man after the fall did not see any harness or rope attached to him.

According to the Times, the scaffolding accident occurred less than a month after a construction worker who was installing windows in a New York City condominium tower fell to his death after a nylon safety strap failed. The construction site was immediately closed to conduct an investigation and to review safety precautions at the site.

When sites are closed, it means that construction workers, who are often on contract, don’t get paid. When a construction site is fined, construction workers are affected, whether the project in question experiences cutbacks or future projects are delayed or cancelled.

Nearly 6.5 million people work at approximately 252,000 construction sites across the nation on any given day. The fatal injury rate for construction workers is higher than the national average in this category for all industries, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) website.

Improper precautions taken on scaffolding is the most commonly cited hazard that OSHA issues at construction sites. When scaffolds are not erected or used properly, fall hazards can occur. About 2.3 million construction workers frequently work on scaffolds. Protecting these workers from scaffold-related accidents would prevent an estimated 4,500 injuries and 50 fatalities each year, according to the OSHA website.

OSHA requires that construction workers use the following precautions on scaffolding:
  • Scaffold must be sound, rigid, and sufficient to carry its own weight plus four times the maximum intended load without settling or displacement. It must be erected on solid footing.

  • Unstable objects, such as barrels, boxes, loose bricks, or concrete blocks must not be used to support scaffolds or planks.

  • Scaffold must not be erected, moved, dismantled, or altered except under the supervision of a competent person.

  • Scaffold must be equipped with guardrails, midrails, and toeboards.

  • Scaffold accessories such as braces, brackets, trusses, screw legs, or ladders that are damaged or weakened from any cause must be immediately repaired or replaced.

  • Scaffold platforms must be tightly planked with scaffold plank grade material or equivalent.

  • A “competent person” must inspect the scaffolding and, at designated intervals, reinspect it.

  • Rigging on suspension scaffolds must be inspected by a competent person before each shift and after any occurrence that could affect structural integrity to ensure that all connections are tight and that no damage to the rigging has occurred since its last use.

  • Synthetic and natural rope used in suspension scaffolding must be protected from heat-producing sources.

  • Employees must be instructed about the hazards of using diagonal braces as fall protection.

  • Scaffold can be accessed by using ladders and stairwells.

  • Scaffolds must be at least 10 feet from electric power lines at all times.
By following proper safety precautions, accidents are less likely to happen, which will be better for budgets and safety reviews, not to mention for the benefit of loved ones.
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Popular tags:

 safety regulations  OSHA  industry  construction  accidents  salary  workers  New York  New York Times  safety


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