There are hundreds of scaffold accidents that take place every year in New York involving construction workers resulting in serious injury or death. Many development projects and improvements to tall buildings throughout New York State require the frequent use of scaffolds. However, scaffolds must be erected in accordance with the manufacturers’ recommendations and industry standards or else there could be grave consequences to construction workers. In addition, it is important that safety professionals routinely inspect scaffolding equipment to ensure that it is in proper working order to prevent accidents involving an elevated height danger. The attorneys at Law Offices of Louis Grandelli, P.C. have extensive experience representing scaffold accident victims who have been seriously injured, and the families of those that have been wrongfully killed. (See Cases of Note).
Inspection of Scaffolds
Under New York law, supervisors at construction sites are responsible to implement procedures for the inspection of scaffolding at construction sites to ensure the equipment provides proper protection for all workers using this equipment, as well as the workers performing tasks at a level below the platform of the scaffold. It is necessary that every scaffold be inspected on a frequent basis by a supervisor such as a project engineer, manager or other designated person with the qualifications to inspect such a scaffold. Scaffolding should never be altered or modified without the supervision of a competent and designated supervisor. No equipment, tools or debris should be left on scaffolding when workers are done for the day. All safety instructions regarding the use and maintenance of scaffolding should be conspicuously posted so that workers are aware of safety instructions. It is also necessary to protect all scaffolding from vehicles or mobile machinery such as fork lifts that may come into contact with them. On certain occasions ladders are used to provide workers with access to their work area. When using a ladder for this purpose it must be secured against slipping or falling. Overhead protection is also necessary to avoid a worker being struck by a falling object while on a scaffold. Lumber, screen mesh or canvas can be used to provide overhead protection. Lastly, it is also necessary to ensure that there are no slipping or tripping hazards on scaffolds to avoid accidents.
The following are some of the types of scaffolds used at construction sites:
- Steel and Wood Scaffolding – Construction companies often use steel scaffolds since they are more durable than wood structures. Steel scaffolding must be built and utilized in accordance with the manufacturers recommendations, which would include installing all necessary safety devices and locking the scaffold’s connections. Proper erection of scaffolding equipment includes scaffold footings to secure against movement, and guard rails secured by connectors. Unfortunately, numerous scaffold accidents occur as a result of the failure to use toe-boards and guard rails. Therefore, it is critical that these safety features are in place and properly maintained.Wood scaffolds are sometimes used at construction sites in place of steel scaffolding. It is necessary when erecting wood scaffolding that the lumber be of a good quality, and free of other defects which may affect the integrity of the scaffold. Like any other scaffold, a wooden scaffold should be designed to ensure that it can safely hold the load it was designed to handle. This includes workmen, materials and any machinery. Similar to other scaffolds, adequate footing, such as planks should be provided to workers. Cross-bracing is also necessary to provide stability. Guard rails or hand rails should be provided on all open sides of the platform of the scaffold as well as toe-boards on open sides of the scaffolding.
- Pole Scaffolds – Certain contractors, such as painters and carpenters do not bring large scaffolding material on to a job site as opposed to concrete workers and brick layers. For the “lighter trades” single pole scaffolds can be used, but it is obviously just as important to ensure that these scaffolds are properly erected, inspected and maintained. It is also necessary that single pole scaffolding by cross-braced in both directions to ensure its integrity.
- Baker (Rolling) Scaffolds – These scaffolds are mobile and are often utilized at work sites in place of tubular steel scaffolding. They provide convenience since they do not have to be dismantled, and assist workers in performing tasks which are not of long duration. When moving baker scaffolds, it is necessary to remove all material and equipment before moving the scaffold. It is also important to apply caster brakes or wheel locks when the scaffold is being utilized by workers.
If you have sustained a serious injury while on a scaffold, or lost a loved one due to a scaffold accident, please contact our firm to discuss your case.