Scaffolding is a critical construction resource, as it allows workers to safely operate at elevations while projects are underway. Yet, improperly constructed or maintained scaffolding is dangerous, as are many behaviors that too many employers and workers engage in on and around scaffolding.
Understanding what causes scaffolding injuries can help both management and workers to better ensure the safety of everyone on and near construction sites that contain scaffolding at any given time.
Common contributing factors
Although not an exhaustive list, these are some of the most common contributing factors to scaffolding-related harm:
- Inadequate training: Insufficient or improper training on scaffold usage, safety procedures, and equipment can increase the risk of accidents. Lack of knowledge regarding proper assembly, maintenance and safe practices can lead to hazardous situations.
- Unsafe behavior: Failure to follow safety protocols and guidelines while working on scaffolding can result in accidents. This includes actions such as overloading the scaffold, climbing on unsecured or incomplete scaffolds or not wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) like harnesses or helmets.
- Poor communication: Ineffective communication among workers, supervisors and other stakeholders can lead to misunderstandings, confusion and potential accidents.
- Scaffold defects or instability: Insufficient inspection, maintenance or faulty assembly of scaffolding can result in structural defects or instability.
- Environmental conditions: Adverse weather conditions, such as strong winds, rain or snow, can pose significant risks to workers on scaffolds. Slippery surfaces, reduced visibility or unstable ground conditions can contribute to accidents.
- Falling objects: Tools, materials or equipment falling from scaffolding can cause severe injuries to workers below.
By addressing these human and structural/environmental factors through proper training, adherence to safety protocols, regular inspections, effective communication and the use of high-quality scaffolding equipment, the risk of scaffolding injuries can be significantly reduced. Yet, because accidents can happen on even the most well-tended of construction sites, it remains important for workers to understand that they can seek legal guidance at any time to learn about their compensation options if they are ever hurt while on the job.