If you, like many other Louisiana residents, make a living in construction or another type of industry where you commonly rely on scaffolds or elevated, temporary work platforms, it is critical that you recognize the dangers this equipment poses. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, making efforts to reduce scaffolding-related accidents could potentially save about 60 lives and prevent a percentage of about 4,500 injuries every year.
Most scaffolds fall into one of two categories. Supported scaffolds are those with legs, poles or frames that support the weight of the scaffold, while suspended scaffolds, as the name implies, are platforms suspended from above. Both types pose threats to workers, but just how do scaffolds endanger America’s workforce?
How scaffolds cause injuries
Many accidents that involve scaffolds are similar, and many scaffolding-related injuries result from similar circumstances. If you work directly on a scaffold, you run the risk of suffering injuries caused by falls from heights, and the severity of your fall-related injury will typically depend on whether adequate fall protection was in place. If you work on a scaffold, you also run the risk of suffering an injury if that scaffold itself collapses, and this sometimes happens when the platform is unstable or forced to bear too much weight.
Depending on the height and location of your scaffold, electrocution, too, may be a valid concern. If scaffolding is set up too close to power lines, this can exacerbate your risk of on-the-job electrocution. Finally, scaffolds pose risks to construction and other workers, even if workers do not stand directly on top of them. Why? Falling objects, tools and work materials can all cause injury to workers below the scaffold, highlighting the importance of keeping your tools and gear properly stored when working from heights.
Working on or around scaffolds is undeniably dangerous, but wearing proper protective gear and taking all necessary safety precautions can help you minimize the risk of an accident.