A scaffold is a temporary platform that is used to elevate and support workers and materials when they are working on the building. Scaffolds are used for the cleaning, repair or the construction of a building, but scaffolding accidents occur a little too often.
Scaffolding Accidents On The Rise
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) gave regulations that were designed to protect workers from the hazards of working from scaffolds in 1971. Scaffold accidents have been on the increase despite the safety regulations put in place. The accidents result in serious injuries and even death. The largest number of injuries occurs when people fall. Injuries also occur when materials that are being lifted fall. Most cases of materials falling all have serious injuries, and there are high chances of fatality.
A case that is remembered is the 2007 window washers’ accident. The two window washers were brothers working
on a scaffold on the Upper East Side in New York. They were cleaning the window when the scaffold snapped and fell 47 stories to the pavement. One brother died while the other was seriously injured.
The surviving brother sued Tractel, the company in charge of maintaining the Upper East Side window washing scaffold that fell. The company was issued three citations for not ensuring that there was the proper installation of the parts that supported the scaffold load. The organization had been issued with a notice of violations when it was discovered that the hoist rope on the scaffold had a faulty compression device.
Causes Of Accidents
In New York, the department of labor has put regulations in place on the standards of window washing scaffolds. NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) issued a report saying that falls that are mostly from scaffolds are a leading cause of traumatic death during construction. Most of these falls occur as a result of the following:
- Lack of installing and operating proper scaffold equipment.
- The use of defective equipment parts.
- Lack of sufficient worker training.
- Failure to provide or use the required protection equipment.
Challenges Faced By Employers & Workers
Most employers in the construction industry do not take OSHA regulations seriously. The concept is because there is limited number of OSHA quality inspectors. The fines paid for violation of the regulations are also low. Most employers will pay them and not make any changes to improve the safety of the workers and the construction site. This is seen in companies like Adar Steel of Brooklyn. OSHA fined Adar for not providing safety equipment for the workers and not training the workers on how to use the scaffolding equipment.
In 2014 on March 6, a worker was passing some metal to another worker when he jumped and fell two stories and was injured. Upon further investigation, the safety administration discovered that the worker who fell along with other workers was not wearing helmets and harnesses. They also found beer cans at the site although the workers denied that anyone was drinking. Adar was penalized again but did not pay and is now on a watch list for severe violators.
Workers are also partially responsible for these accidents. This is because the workers do not undergo the training required and instead obtain fake safety cards. These cards are issued after one goes for the safety training courses that normally take two days.You will also find that most workers will not wear helmets and harnesses as is required by law.Workers also work even without supervision because premiums are mainly paid based on speed, making workers push to use the shortest and fastest way available that puts them at risk.
Learning About Hazards Is Imperative
For those working in the construction industry and using scaffolds, they need to learn about hazards. They should also learn about safety measures to take to reduce the chances of accidents occurring.
Employers should also ensure that the equipment being used is of the required quality and that their workers all undergo the proper training in using them.By doing this and following the regulations given, scaffold accidents will be avoided.