Construction site accidents kill and injure hundreds of thousands of workers each year. Indeed, working at a construction site is one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States. While workers rely on ladders and scaffolding for the purpose of safety, these structures can prove dangerous if not properly constructed or maintained. Every year, thousands of construction workers suffer injuries due to collapses and falls. In fact, about 88 construction workers a year are killed in scaffolding accidents.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has rules regarding scaffolding and ladders:
- Scaffolding must be provided for any individual doing work that cannot be performed from the ground, except in cases where a ladder is permitted
- The anchorage or footing on ladders and scaffolding must be sound, rigid, and capable of carrying the maximum intended load without settling or slipping
- Unstable objects should not be used to support scaffolding
- Scaffolds and all scaffolding components must be able to support at least four times the maximum intended load without failure
- Scaffolds and ladders should not be loaded in excess of the intended working load
- Scaffolding must be constructed in a way that provides a barrier to protect from falls
- Ladders and scaffolds must be maintained in safe condition
- Ladders should not be placed on small scaffolds, especially mobile or “baker” scaffolds
- Scaffolding must be visually inspected for defects before every work shift. Scaffolding also must be inspected after any event that could possibly affect the integrity of the scaffolding
- Any ladders and scaffolding showing signs of weakness or damage must be immediately repaired and not used until repairs are completed
- Scaffolding should not be used during storms or windy weather
- Every employee using scaffolding must receive safety training
According to OSHA, more than 70 percent of scaffolding accidents could have been prevented if the employer had complied with OSHA standards.