Scaffolding is essential to the safe and timely completion of most large-scale construction projects in Oklahoma City. When assembled and used correctly, scaffolding provides sturdy support for construction workers as they go about their jobs. However, problems like wood rot and misuse can cause scaffolding to weaken, deform, or collapse completely, leading to falls from heights and other serious accidents.
If you or your spouse was injured in a scaffolding collapse accident on an Oklahoma City construction project, they could be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits from their employer. In addition, they could also have grounds for a personal injury claim. Depending on what caused the accident, compensation may be available for your medical bills, hospital bills, lost earnings, and other hardships.
At Hasbrook & Hasbrook, our construction accident lawyers combine over three quarters of a century of experience. We are highly knowledgeable and fully committed to helping injured construction workers fight for the compensation they deserve. Call our law offices at (405) 698-3040 to set up a free and completely confidential legal consultation today.
OSHA Scaffolding Regulations: Safety Requirements and Employer Liability
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) establishes federal scaffolding safety criteria under Section 1910.28 of the Occupational Safety and Health Standards. These standards set forth “general requirements for all scaffolds” in any type of building project. Under OSHA rules, scaffolds must:
- Be “maintained in safe condition.”
- Be capable of supporting four times the maximum intended load without collapsing.
- Be made using special scaffold-grade lumber.
- Be repaired “immediately” if they are ever damaged or weakened.
- Feature overhead protection against falling object strikes.
They must not:
- Be loaded past their maximum load.
- Be modified or moved (from side to side) while someone is using or standing on them.
- Be propped up with bricks or pieces of wood.
- Be so cluttered with tools, debris, or natural materials (e.g. sand, dirt) that it creates a hazard.
Furthermore, employers are banned from making their employees work on scaffolds “during storms or high winds,” or “on scaffolds which are covered with ice or snow, unless all ice or snow is removed and planking sanded to prevent slipping.”
These are just a few of the numerous requirements scaffolds are expected to comply with. Unfortunately, construction companies don’t always obey these regulations. When construction companies take shortcuts and bend safety rules in order to save money, it’s their employees who suffer as a consequence. Some examples of defects and hazards that can lead to a scaffolding collapse include:
- Defective structural components, like cracked bolts.
- Lack of adequate supervision when setting up or working on scaffolds.
- Improper assembly and installation of scaffolding.
- Improper maintenance of scaffolding or wooden planks.
- Improper storage, which can cause damage before the product is even shipped out for use.
- Improper usage or loading.
Deaths and Injuries Caused by Falls in the Construction Industry
When a scaffold suddenly tilts or fails, a fall is virtually unavoidable. Falls from heights are a pervasive problem in the construction industry, accounting for 349 out of the 874 construction worker deaths reported to OSHA in 2014 (about 40%). Scaffolding issues are often to blame, as the third most frequently cited OSHA safety violation from October 2014 to September 2015. Accidental falls from scaffolds can cause catastrophic or fatal injuries, including:
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
- Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)
- Back Injuries
- Scarring and Disfigurement
- Broken Bones
- Fractured Rib
- Fractured Collarbone
- Fractured Ankle
- Fractured Wrist
- Fractured Arm
- Fractured Leg
- Fractured Pelvis
- Fractured Vertebrae
- Dental/Facial Injuries
- Broken Nose
- Broken Cheekbone
- Broken Jaw
- Soft Tissue Injuries
- Torn Ligaments (Sprains)
- Torn/Pulled Muscles (Strains)
- Severe Contusions (Bruising)
In other cases, it’s not the person on the scaffold who is injured, but the person working underneath. These types of injuries can occur when sharp, heavy tools and building materials slide off of tilted platforms, striking the heads, shoulders, or toes of the workers below. While less common than falls, object strikes are another widespread hazard in the construction industry, causing more than 8% of deaths in 2014.
If you were injured at an unsafe worksite in Oklahoma City, you should speak to an attorney immediately about getting compensated. Negligent employers who ignore OSHA regulations may be subject to stiff penalties, and should be held accountable for accidents caused by their careless approach to building.
Rely on an Experienced Oklahoma Personal Injury Lawyer for Help Today
The scaffolding collapse lawyers of Hasbrook & Hasbrook are dedicated to helping injured construction workers get compensated for preventable injuries. To set up a free legal consultation, call our law offices at (405) 698-3040. Your information will be kept confidential, and you’ll never be charged any fees unless we make a recovery for you.