Scaffolding falls a growing danger as construction picks up again

As the construction industry rebounds, concerns are growing over safety, particularly regarding fall prevention.

Fatal accident this year points to concerns over safety and lack of standards

Earlier this year, as the News & Observer reported, three workers were killed and one was injured in Raleigh after the mast climber they were on plummeted to the ground. The tragedy is a reminder of the risks construction workers face every day, particularly from serious falls, which are the leading cause of fatalities in the industry. As demand for construction picks up again, those risks are becoming all the more apparent, especially in light of a lack of safety enforcement at some job sites as well as concerns over safety standards for certain types of scaffolding.

Mast climber safety

The mast climber, which was involved in the accident in Raleigh, is a special type of scaffolding that can quickly transport workers up the side of a building. If they are installed properly, then mast climbers are typically safe to use. But because of their large size and height, even a seemingly small error in their installation can have catastrophic consequences. A report by the Center for Construction Research and Training notes that accidents involving mast climbers, while uncommon, are much more likely than other types of scaffolding accidents to lead to multiple deaths and serious injuries.

As the Charlotte Observer points out, concerns have also been raised about the fact that scaffolding safety standards used by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) predate mast climbers. Currently, both OSHA and mast climber operators must rely on the American National Standards Institute's guide for how to properly install, maintain, and operate them. When investigating an accident involving a mast climber, OSHA can still cite violations based on its general scaffolding standards and on the contractor's obligation to provide a safe job site.

Construction growing

Mast climbers, along with other types of scaffolding, are becoming a more common sight on tall buildings across the country as the construction industry begins to rebound. Experts have warned that with the industry expanding again, safety on job sites needs to be taken even more seriously. One concern, for example, is that with the demand for workers growing, some contractors and subcontractors may fail to properly train and equip the many new and inexperienced workers that are coming into the industry.

Those new workers may also be unaware of what their rights are on the job site. A contractor, for example, is responsible for providing workers with proper safety equipment. In some cases, however, workers who fail to receive this equipment may fail to speak up about their concerns for fear of losing their jobs.

Construction accidents

Maintaining a safe workplace is the most important duty any contractor has. Unfortunately, safety is not always treated as the top priority by all contractors and for workers the results can be tragic. Anybody who has been injured in a construction accident should immediately contact an attorney who is experienced in dealing with workers compensation claims. Pursuing compensation can help cover not just medical expenses, but lost wages, damages, and other costs that typically arise after a construction accident.