Scaffolding is an essential part of a construction site. It allows workers to reach higher levels and be more stable than standing on a ladder. However, scaffolding can be very dangerous and consistently results in accidents for construction workers. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has noted that while falls are a major source of injuries in the construction industry, falls from scaffolding are one of the leading causes of those injuries.
If you suffer an injury on a construction site, you might believe you are limited to filing a workers’ compensation claim. While Arkansas law does provide monetary compensation for people hurt while at work, there are other options – especially if you were injured in a scaffolding accident. By talking with a knowledgeable attorney, you will have a better understanding of what parties could be held accountable for your injuries.
Our Fayetteville workplace injury lawyers are familiar with just how easy it is to be injured while working on a construction site, and we know that when accidents happen they often impact not only your life but the lives of your family. For more than 20 years, we have represented injured workers throughout Arkansas and right here in Fayetteville. If you have been injured, don’t wait to contact a Fayetteville AR personal injury lawyer today. Call (479) 316-0438.
SCAFFOLDING ACCIDENTS IN CONSTRUCTION
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a vast majority of construction employees often work on scaffolds. In fact, it has been estimated that as many as 65 percent of the construction industry uses scaffolding as a regular part of their job. This has led to an obviously increased amount of accidents from scaffolding. OSHA has estimated that scaffold-related accidents account for a majority of the accidents on the worksite and can cost American employers upwards of $90 million in lost profits from lost workdays.
If you or someone you know was injured on a scaffold due to an employer’s failure to ensure the use of protective equipment or the safety of the scaffold, contact our experienced construction accident attorneys. Below are some of the regulations developed by OSHA regarding scaffolds.
REASONS FOR SCAFFOLDING ACCIDENTS
Scaffolding are temporary structures that allow workers to reach heights and move more freely than they would be able to if they were just using a ladder. Construction workers in almost every facet of the construction industry employ scaffolding as a means of building new buildings and repairing already existing structures.
While workers are using these structures they face many dangers and are at an increased risk of injury. Workers who are performing construction, maintenance, or repair at any height are already at risk for injuries, oftentimes scaffolding adds another element of danger. This is particularly true when OSHA regulations are not followed. If you or a loved one has suffered any of the below injuries, it is imperative to contact our experienced Arkansas scaffolding work injury lawyers immediately. Some of the most common reasons for a scaffolding accident include:
Improper scaffold construction: OSHA has established and published a very detailed and specific set of specifications for how scaffolding should be constructed and maintained. That being said, when scaffolding is not constructed or maintained properly, it can lead to accidents and injuries.
Scaffolding not properly inspected: Related to properly constructing scaffolding, OSHA has established that all scaffolding needs to be regularly inspected to ensure that it is still in conformity with OSHA specifications. These inspections need to be conducted by a specially-trained worker within the construction industry. They will be required to know the nuances of scaffolding, how it is constructed, and how it should be maintained.
Falling objects: Many injuries on construction sites are caused by objects like tools or pieces of building materials being dropped. An item dropped from a scaffold can cause severe–even fatal–injuries to people below.
In addition to these types of accidents on scaffolding, any one of the following scaffolding related problems can cause an accident:
- Inadequate Safety Procedures
- Insecure or non-existent bracing
- Weak planking
- Insufficient training
- Lack of protective equipment
In a study conducted by the United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics, 72 percent of workers who were injured in a scaffolding accident attributed their accident to the planking or the supporting structure giving way. Even under the most careful of circumstances and under the watchful eye of a supervisor, accidents on scaffolding are common. The smallest error while a worker is balanced on a scaffolding structure can mean that they fall from the structure, or are injured. Scaffolding injuries can range from minor cuts, bumps, and bruises, to life-threatening or even fatal injuries.
OSHA SCAFFOLD REGULATIONS
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recognized that among all of the various tools, equipment, and vehicles that may be on a construction site, scaffolding is one of the most dangerous and widely used devices. Therefore, in an effort to try and avoid some of the devastating injuries from scaffolding injuries, OSHA has enacted an incredibly intricate and well-developed set of regulations and guidelines as they pertain to scaffolding. Some of the notable sections of OSHA standards include:
- Design and Construction: The design and construction of scaffolds must conform with OSHA requirements concerning the type of equipment, rated capacities, construction methods, and use. Each scaffold and scaffold component must be capable of supporting its own weight plus at least four times the maximum intended load without failure. Each suspension rope must be capable of supporting at least six times the maximum intended load.
- Inspection: Employers should require an OSHA competent person to inspect all scaffolds and scaffold components for visible defects before use on each work shift. Scaffolds should be erected, moved, dismantled, or altered only under the supervision of a competent person. All components of personal fall protection equipment should be inspected before use. Any visibly damaged or worn equipment should be removed from service immediately.
- Capacity: OSHA regulations section 1926.451(a) – (f)(3) establish a detailed list of requirements as it pertains to how much weight scaffolding is expected to hold. In addition to being able to support its own weight without failure, for scaffolding to conform to the specifications and requirements of OSHA, it needs to be able to hold, again without failure, at least four times the maximum intended to load that is applied to or transmitted to it.
Every time a construction worker climbs on scaffolding, they are putting their life and well-being on the line and at risk. Accidents that are caused by improperly maintained or constructed scaffolding can lead to life-long and even life-threatening injuries.
Do You Have a Personal Injury Claim if You Were Injured in a Scaffolding Accident?
From the information provided above, it should be clear that scaffolding is dangerous. Construction work has inherent risks and injures occur. When an injury is the result of an accidental chain of events or circumstances, an injured worker has the option of filing a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ comp is designed to provide almost immediate benefits to an injured worker without the need to file a lawsuit. However, if a scaffolding injury was caused by negligence, other options are available.
Under Arkansas workers’ compensation law, an injured employee is prohibited from suing their employer. This is the trade-off to having easy access to benefits. However, workers’ compensation benefits do not cover all damages an injured worker suffers. While their medical costs should be covered, there are only compensated for a percentage of their wages. Additionally, pain and suffering are not included in a workers’ compensation claim. Fortunately, if you were injured in a scaffolding accident, you could have grounds to file a claim against the responsible party if it was someone other than your employer.
Liable Parties for a Scaffold Injury
Just because you are prohibited from filing a personal injury claim against your employer, it does not mean that our Arkansas scaffolding injury lawyers do not have other options. There are actually many potential third parties to consider when evaluating a scaffolding injury claim. In most cases, it comes down to a specific party’s conduct, experience, and level of supervision and control over the job site. Some possible liable parties include, but are not limited to, the following:
- General contractor
- The third-party company hired to erect, maintain, or inspect the scaffolding
- The third-party company hired to provide safety devices or protections on the job site
- An employee of a third-party company
- The scaffold manufacturer
- The manufacturer of safety devices utilized on the scaffolding
Our Bella Vista personal injury attorneys will thoroughly investigate the cause of the accident to determine what party or parties could be held financially responsible for your injuries.
Steps to Take if You Were Injured in a Scaffolding Accident
If you were injured in a scaffolding accident, you might not know what exactly happened. You might have merely taken an unfortunate misstep or been the victim of negligence. Whether you believe you will be filing a workers’ compensation claim or pursuing a personal injury lawsuit, there are some steps you should take that will help our Arkansas workplace injury lawyers advocate for your rights.
Seek Medical Treatment
Your health and welfare should be your first concern. If you need emergency medical treatment, you should seek it immediately. If you believe you only suffered minor injuries, you should still see your doctor or go to an urgent care facility. This step is not only important for your health; medical evidence is a key component in whether you file a workers’ comp claim or take your case to court.
Take Pictures of the Accident Scene and Your Injuries
If your injuries allow, you should take photographs of the scaffolding, including any details that you believe contributed to the accident. If the site is cleaned up or materials are moved, important evidence could be lost. Be sure to take pictures of any safety equipment used on the scaffolding, including harnesses or other fall arrest systems.
You should also document your injuries. If you have cuts, bruises, or other visible injuries, take pictures of them. Do not feel you need to be judicious – the more pictures, the better.
File an Accident Report
Report the accident to your employee and complete any necessary paperwork. You want to ensure that the accident is well documented. This includes getting the names and contact information of your fellow workers who witnessed the accident. Our Bentonville construction site accident lawyers will want to speak with anyone who saw what happened. While your testimony is important, an impartial witness holds more weight.
To prevail in a construction job injury lawsuit, it is important to document everything. If the site is generally unsafe, if the general or sub-contractors were not complying with OSHA regulations, or if specific parts or equipment were defective, evidence will be required to hold the responsible party or parties liable for your injuries.
Make sure you keep copies of any handbooks, policies, procedures, emails, memos, or any other documentation provided by your employer or any party involved with the scaffold or the construction site.
Additionally, our Arkansas workplace injury lawyers will want to see any documents you might have signed when you were hired or during the course of your employment. It does not matter if the documents were signed before or after your injury. However, our office does advise not to sign anything after your injury before reviewing it with a proper legal representative.
In addition to work-related documents, you should also retain all your medical records. You should keep track of doctor’s appointments, hospital visits, diagnostic tests, prescription medication, and physical therapy. This information is vital to support your financial damages and to support your injury claim.
CONTACT A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER IN FAYETTEVILLE IF YOU WERE INJURED IN A SCAFFOLDING ACCIDENT
We have helped many injured construction workers throughout Arkansas recover from and secure financial compensation following an injury related to scaffolding. Our Fayetteville attorneys for injuries caused by work equipment can help you get the compensation you need to cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Call (479) 316-0438 to take the first steps in fighting for your rights.