Scaffolding is a structure usually made out of metal that is put up on a construction site for multistory buildings to allow construction workers to either build or repair the structure, whether it be a bridge a building, or other man-made structure. As with many things on the construction site, scaffolding can be dangerous and cause injury to both the workers on the job site and the general public.
- 1. Who Is Most Likely To Have A Personal Injury Claim Due To A Scaffolding Accident?
- 2. Types of Scaffolding and Their Challenges
- a. The most common types of scaffolding include:
- 3. Weight Loads and Inspection of Scaffolding
- 4. New York Labor Law Section 240 Better Known as The Scaffolding Law
- 5. Who Is Responsible for Scaffolding Accidents?
Who Is Most Likely To Have A Personal Injury Claim Due To A Scaffolding Accident?
While scaffolding accidents generally occur to construction workers who physically work on the scaffolding accidents can also occur to members of the general public if the scaffolding collapses while they are passing by or underneath the scaffolding.
Types of Scaffolding and Their Challenges
Although the scaffolding people think of is generally metal there are several different types of scaffolding that can be used on a construction site depending on what is being built were repaired and each type poses its own safety risks that can lead to injury.
The most common types of scaffolding include:
- Tubular steel scaffolding: This is the type of scaffolding that most people think about when somebody says scaffolding. It is also the most durable form of scaffolding. However tubular scaffolding must be directed precisely following the instructions provided by the manufacturer and this is unfortunately not always the case on construction sites. When using steel scaffolding construction workers must also use what are known as toe boards and guardrails in order to help ensure that workers do not fall from the scaffolding. Toeboards are pieces of wood or metal that are placed in the scaffolding to allow construction workers to have a surface to walk on and work on while they are building or repairing the structure. The most common causes of falling from scaffolding occur when these toe boards are not properly put in place and guardrails are not properly used.
- Baker or rolling scaffolding: as the name suggests this is the scaffolding that can be moved from place to place on a job site. The most common cause of injury is failing to move tools or toe boards from the scaffolding prior to moving it from one location to another, causing the tools or toe boards to fall from scaffolding injuring someone.
- Wood scaffolding: while this type of scaffolding is generally cheaper than steel scaffolding it carries a higher risk of collapse because lesser quality woods are used. Another common cause of injury on wooden scaffolding is not using guardrails and handrails to maintain balance and safety for workers.
- Pole scaffolding: this type of scaffolding is divided into two types light load and heavy load. Workers who use light load scaffolding do not bring heavy materials with them and include painters or carpenters whereas heavy load scaffolding will be used by bricklayers or workers who are using cement or other heavy materials. This type of scaffolding is a little more dangerous because it only is supported on three sides by itself and uses the building that is under repair as the fourth support structure.
- Rope Scaffolding: this type of scaffolding is essentially a pulley system that brings a worker up to the position that they need to be in to work on or repair the building. A common example of rope scaffolding is the old-fashioned window cleaners for high-rises seen in old movies.
Weight Loads and Inspection of Scaffolding
One common source of scaffolding injury across all of the different types of scaffolding is scaffolding collapse due to an excessive weight load. Each form of scaffolding is graded by the manufacturer or a certain amount of weight that the scaffolding can support. The calculation of this weight is called the scaffolding’s weight load and includes the weight of the workers their tools and any materials they may bring with them. If workers or a construction company attempt to either have too many workers on a scaffolding platform or to carry too much heavy equipment on the scaffolding and exceed the weight load can cause collapse.
Construction companies must also inspect their scaffolding to ensure that it is improperly repair while on the job site. When scaffolding is not properly inspected or modified without getting permission from the construction foreman or construction company it can cause issues with the scaffolding leading to injury.
New York Labor Law Section 240 Better Known as The Scaffolding Law
New York has specifically protected both construction workers and the general public when scaffolding is used due to the frequency of accidents surrounding scaffolding. Under the law, tenants, landlords, and building owners are liable for accidents that occur due to tools or individuals falling off scaffolding. The scaffolding law also provides additional protection for construction workers as it puts liability on the property owner to ensure that the job site is safe. However, it is important to understand that the scaffolding law only applies to very specific jobs and situations including:
- Repairing a building
- Cleaning a building
- Erecting scaffolding and its pieces to perform the other jobs.
Who Is Responsible for Scaffolding Accidents?
If you are a construction worker who falls or is otherwise injured by scaffolding it can become a workers compensation claim. However, you may have to sue your insurance company or your employer itself to receive those benefits. If you can prove that the company was negligent in erecting or using the scaffolding and you as an employee got injured because of it you may be entitled to additional compensation.
If you are a member of the general public who gets injured when scaffolding either collapses or tools fall from the scaffolding you can go after the property owner, tenant or landlord hired a contractor to do the work to recover from your injuries.
It is essential that you speak with a personal injury lawyer about your case as soon as possible after the accident occurs to ensure that you understand your rights fully and that you preserve your right to sue if necessary.
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