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Understanding scaffolding fall dangers for workers

Scaffolds on construction sites can be dangerous to construction workers for a number of reasons. Construction workers may share scaffolding space with building materials and heavy equipment, creating a precarious working environment. Additionally, scaffolding space can be small which makes the risk of falls from the limited area of a scaffold a greater risk. Improperly constructed scaffolds can result in serious injuries or death in some circumstances as well.

Safety recommendations for construction sites are designed to limit the dangers scaffolds, and other potential fall hazards, pose to the safety of construction workers. Safety recommendations include constructing all scaffolding according to the manufacturer's instructions; installation of guardrail systems along any open sides and at the ends of platforms; providing guardrail systems or personal fall arrest systems for scaffolds greater than 10 feet above the lower level; in addition to providing safe access to all scaffold platforms, as well as additional safety measures.

With an average of 362 fatal falls from 1995 to 1999, falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry. The trend, unfortunately, has been increasing rather than decreasing. Because of the high frequency of fall-related harm in the construction industry, it is important that safety precautions are properly followed.

Construction workers work hard in an oftentimes difficult and challenging environment. For workers who have been injured or otherwise harmed in a scaffolding fall, different legal options may be available for both injured workers and their families to consider. Depending on the circumstances, legal protections may make damages available to victims of construction-related falls and scaffolding accidents.

Source: Occupational Health and Safety Administration, "Improper Scaffold Construction," accessed on Jan. 26, 2015

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