Scaffolding Accidents: What You Need to Know

Construction worker setting up scaffolding.

Working in the construction industry is one of the most hazardous careers you can undertake. There are more accidents that result in death among construction workers every year than in practically any other job market in the U.S. Among those accidents, the most common are of the slip-and-fall variety, more often than not from scaffolding.

In general, when someone is injured in the workplace, their injuries are covered by workers’ compensation insurance. However, there are some situations where gross negligence comes into play and while rare, in such cases it may be possible for the injured party to file a personal injury claim instead of collecting workers’ comp. Explore the circumstances under which a personal injury claim can be filed for scaffolding accidents, and how a lawyer can help your case.

Safety Guidelines

There are detailed laws in place to keep construction sites safe. Many of these are published by OSHA the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Among these publications are detailed guidelines on scaffolding safety. These guidelines are generally accepted by the courts as minimum standards. Many states, cities, municipalities and even companies have even more stringent guidelines which may also be called upon as evidence in an injury claim.

At their most basic, the OSHA guidelines demand the following:

  1.      All scaffolding must be able to support quadruple the amount of weight it’s expected to hold.
  2.      Scaffolding supports have to be solid; they may not be loose bricks, barrels, cinder blocks or the like.
  3.      Scaffold planks have to overlap by a minimum of 12 inches and must extend their supports by at least six to 18 inches.
  4.      If work is to be performed overhead, protection must be provided.
  5.      Under no circumstances should unsecured tools, debris or other materials collect on the scaffold.
  6.      Lean-to scaffolding and shore scaffolding are not allowed.

Liability in Scaffolding Accidents

In most cases when a worker falls, workers’ compensation will cover their injuries so far as medical bills and lost wages are concerned. However, in certain situations where serious negligence comes into play, an injury suit might be possible.

To prove liability, three things have to be demonstrated. The first is that the defendant had a responsibility to make sure the worker stayed safe. The second is that this responsibility was not upheld, and the third is that this failure caused the worker’s injury.

In terms of construction accidents, not everyone at the site has this responsibility towards everyone else. In general, you’re looking at direct supervisors, those responsible for building the scaffolding, or those responsible for overseeing the work site.

Hiring an Injury Attorney

While an injury case can garner more in terms of settlement than a workers’ compensation case, it can also be more difficult to pursue when the injury is work-related. This is why you need the help of a qualified workers’ compensation and personal injury attorney.

An attorney can help you choose the right path to get compensated for your injury, and can make sure that you get the full compensation to which you’re entitled. If you live in West Virginia and need help seeking settlement for scaffolding accidents, call the attorneys at Bell Law today.