Scaffolding Injuries And Construction Accidents In Philadelphia

Scaffolding Injuries

Annual research conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revealed that the year 2010 2019 saw about 2.8 million construction work injuries through all fields, including construction of residential and non-residential buildings. The BLS also reports that Pennsylvania is one of 22 states that saw an increase in workplace accidents and injuries that were significantly above the national average. From year to year, one of the most consistent causes of construction worker injuries and fatalities has been falling from roofs, scaffolding, ladders, or other equipment.

The 2018 study revealed that falling from ladders or slips related injuries increased from 2017 and now accounted for 26.6 cases per 10,000 full-time workers injuries. With falling being such a serious risk among construction workers, it is important to use the proper precaution to ensure that you and those with whom you work remain safe on the job.

How To Prevent Construction Accidents?

Scaffolding Accident Prevention Guide

General Fall Prevention:

It is important for construction workers who work high off the ground to make use of fall arrest equipment; most notably, personal fall arrest equipment. Some major components of personal fall arrest equipment include:

  • Body harnesses: Vest-like gear which attaches to a vertical and/or horizontal lifeline.
  • Lifelines: Sometimes called webbing, lifelines can be vertical or horizontal, and attach to the worker’s harness to limit free fall distance in the event of an accident.
  • Guardrails: Like scaffolding, guardrails are erected by workers to allow for no objects to slip through slats and fall to lower levels.
  • Safety Nets: Safety nets should always be used when workers are more than 25 feet above ground.

Preventing Falls from Ladders:

Since most construction falls are from ladders, it is appropriate to set particular focus on ladder safety. Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing and using a ladder for your work:

  • Inspect the Ladder: Check for defects which may indicate structural damage. For example, damaged or missing rungs, damaged or split side rails, and the absence of safety devices.
  • Clean the Ladder: Dirt, mud, or paint could increase chances of slipping or disguise other of the ladder’s deficiencies.
  • Use the Right Ladder: Check the length of the ladder to make sure it can hold the weight needed to complete the job.

These are just some tips to stay safe from falling on a construction worksite. For information on scaffolding safety and standards, please see “Scaffolding Accidents Which Lead to Injury,” found on the Carpey Law website. Please read the articles on our site for data on construction accidents.

Why Scaffolding Accidents are Dangerous for Workers in Philadelphia

Scaffolding is used in Pennsylvania all the time, and for many reasons. These structures are used for painting and repairing houses, building additions, or doing any number of other construction jobs in the city and surrounding areas. In all cases, scaffolding is only temporary; once the job is done, the scaffolding is removed.

Unfortunately, some workers erect and disassemble scaffolding so often that they occasionally miss crucial steps or take the danger of the structure for granted. This is how scaffolding accidents have become one of the most prominent construction accidents in PA.

Scaffolding Accidents in Pennsylvania

A preliminary Bureau of Labor Studies report for 2011 says that fatal injury rates for construction workers were 12.8 percent. On average, scaffolding injuries affect just under 5,000 workers every year. And roughly 50 workers die from scaffolding related accidents annually.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that about 28 percent of scaffolding related accidents which occur during every seven-year period are caused by structural deficiencies. Which is to say, they could be avoided with a bit more oversight.

What Are The Major Causes of Scaffolding Accidents?

During the assembling stage, disassembling stage, and the stage in which workers are performing other tasks, there are many accidents which can occur if a construction worker is not being entirely safe in his or her actions.

  • Assembling / Disassembling: 8 percent of scaffolding accidents happened while building or breaking down the structure.
  • Scaffolding Failure: 10 percent of scaffolding accidents happened because the scaffolding was not assembled correctly and the structure collapsed at some point during the job.
  • Electrocution: 18 percent of scaffolding accidents involved electrocutions. Many scaffolding structures are made of metal poles which make them particularly dangerous in the event of an electrical accident. Working around power lines is especially dangerous.
  • Falling Objects: 10 percent of scaffolding accidents involve objects falling from the scaffolding and hitting a worker or passerby below.
  • Falls While Working: 10 percent of scaffolding accidents involve a worker literally falling from the scaffolding.

Scaffolding accidents which involve objects or workers falling from the structure could be avoided if the scaffolding is erected according to OSHA standards. There should be no loose planks or poles, and no objects should be left on the scaffolding if they can feasibly slip through a space in the structure.

For information on how to safely erect scaffolding, see OSHA’s Construction Training Program Lesson Plan on scaffolding

How To Prevent Scaffolding Accidents?

With falling being such a serious risk among construction workers, it is important to use the proper precaution to ensure that you and those with whom you work remain safe on the job.

General Fall Prevention:

It is important for construction workers who work high off the ground to make use of fall arrest equipment; most notably, personal fall arrest equipment. Some major components of personal fall arrest equipment include:

  • Body Harnesses: Vest-like gear which attaches to a vertical and/or horizontal lifeline.
  • Lifelines: Sometimes called webbing, lifelines can be vertical or horizontal, and attach to the worker’s harness to limit free fall distance in the event of an accident.
  • Guardrails: Like scaffolding, guardrails are erected by workers to allow for no objects to slip through slats and fall to lower levels.

Safety nets: Safety nets should always be used when workers are more than 25 feet above ground.

Preventing Falls from Ladders:

Since most construction falls are from ladders, it is appropriate to set particular focus on ladder safety. Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing and using a ladder for your work:

  • Inspect the Ladder: Check for defects which may indicate structural damage. For example, damaged or missing rungs, damaged or split side rails, and the absence of safety devices.
  • Clean the Ladder: Dirt, mud, or paint could increase chances of slipping or disguise other of the ladder’s deficiencies.
  • Use the Right Ladder: Check the length of the ladder to make sure it can hold the weight needed to complete the job.

These are just some tips to stay safe from falling on a construction worksite. For information on scaffolding safety and standards, please see “Scaffolding Accidents Which Lead to Injury,” found on the Carpey Law website. Please read the articles on our site for data on construction accidents.

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