Earlier this week, two men were injured after falling off a scaffold at a construction site in Austin, Texas. Thankfully, after being transported to the hospital via medical helicopter, it was determined that their injuries were not life-threatening. While this particular incident did not end in tragedy, it should remind us that these accidents can have devastating results.
The Center to Protect Workers’ Rights (CPWR) is currently conducting a four-year fall injury assessment for emerging mast scaffold technology. In its prior study, the CPWR found that 60 workers are killed every year by falling from scaffolds – 20% of all fatal falls on construction sites.
In order to protect construction workers, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states that scaffolds must be designed, inspected and supervised by qualified and competent persons – persons with “extensive knowledge, training and experience…capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards…(with) authorization to take prompt measures to eliminate them.”
I agree that scaffolds can create a dangerous work environment. In our firm’s experience, it is critical that scaffolds be carefully inspected prior to use, assembled by knowledgeable personnel, and that employers provide workers on and around the scaffolds with all necessary safety equipment in order to protect a potentially vulnerable workforce.