Working at significant heights is normal for construction workers. However, just because something is normal does not mean that it is safe. Scaffolding accidents are one of the most common types of construction accidents and are responsible for a significant number of serious injuries. California employers should take smart and practical approaches to keeping their workers safe, but it appears as if many might not be prioritizing this.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration — OSHA — around 65% of all construction workers frequently spend time on scaffolds, and the related injuries are some of the most dangerous in the field. Falls are a risk when working on scaffolds, so workers should have access to adequate personal fall protection equipment. This includes things like harnesses, drop lines, lanyards, points of anchorage and more. A worker does not have to be physically on a scaffold to be hurt, either. Falling objects can strike unsuspecting workers on the ground, so it is important that these men and women have access to protective gear as well.
Part of the problem is that some scaffolds fall short of OSHA’s standards. One area of concern is individual scaffold components, which are supposed to be able to support four times their maximum intended load as well as their own weight. Suspension ropes have to be able to support six times their intended load. But even if a scaffold is perfectly built to OSHA standards, safety can quickly deteriorate as it is exposed to regular use and various types of weather. Scaffolds should be inspected for visible defects prior to every shift.
Preventing some of the construction industry’s serious scaffolding accidents can be as simple as following guidelines, providing necessary safety gear and conducting regular inspections. Still, accidents can occur even when conditions seem fine. As such, it does not matter whether a victim’s injuries were the result of dangerous work conditions or simply an accident; he or she can still apply for workers’ compensation. These benefits help cover things like medical expenses and lost wages, giving California victims time to focus on recovery.