Padilla Law Group, LLP

Even following safety standards may not make scaffolding safe

Every California construction worker knows that working in construction is not for the faint of heart. It requires working with dangerous equipment and under dangerous conditions. If this is your chosen profession, then you know that one of those hazards involves working at heights.

Falls remain one of the primary sources of injuries in the construction business, and many of them involve scaffolding. Remaining safe is probably your top priority, especially when you find yourself several feet off the ground on scaffolding.

Keeping your safety a priority

Consider the following before climbing up on scaffolding:

  • Don't exceed the maximum load capacity of the platform.
  • Don't use objects, especially heavy ones, to attempt to increase the surface of the platform or to gain more height.
  • Don't skip the inspection by a competent person before each of your shifts.
  • Don't get on the scaffolding if it needs repairs or is otherwise unsafe.
  • Don't ignore the red flags. If you see them, don't climb it.
  • Don't forget that inclement weather can make the scaffolding even more dangerous.

Taking these steps may save your life, or at least save you from serious injuries. However, even when you take the appropriate precautions, you could still suffer injuries.

Scaffolding construction and erection are crucial

Even if the scaffolding materials were correctly manufactured, how it's put together makes a difference for your safety. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends the following when putting together scaffolding:

  • The manufacturer's directions regarding the installation of the braces and ties should be followed explicitly.
  • The components should all come from the same manufacturer under most circumstances.
  • The footings must be rigid, level and support loads without moving or settling.
  • The scaffolding should be leveled and plumbed as it is erected.
  • The couplers and connecters require testing to ensure they are securely and properly fastened before moving to the next step.
  • The scaffold should have railed sides and toeboards installed to help prevent objects from falling.

After completing installation, it should undergo a rigorous safety inspection. Any misstep, mistake or oversight in any part of this process, including the inspection, could put your life at risk.

If you do suffer a fall from scaffolding, you would more than likely qualify for workers' compensation benefits. However, you may also have the option of filing a third party claim against the contractor who put up the scaffolding, the inspector who missed something or the manufacturer if the materials were defective or substandard. The only way to know for sure would entail conducting an investigation and exploring the available options.

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