Originally published May 10, 2021.
Construction workers have one of the most dangerous jobs in the U.S. And one of the most dangerous tasks for construction workers is working while on scaffolding.
According to the United States Department of Labor, throughout 2022, four workers were killed in Michigan in falls from significant heights. Across the U.S., more than 300 construction workers were killed in falls or by falling objects and structures that same year, with 26 accidents directly involving scaffolding.
The Leading Causes of Scaffolding Falls
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH), 86% of scaffolding falls happen in construction.
Five major factors that most commonly contribute to scaffolding falls include:
- Failure to properly train workers in how to work at heights, and in identifying, understanding, and controlling fall risks.
- Lack of fall protection or fall arrest systems, such as toe-boards, guard rails, safety nets, and safety harnesses.
- Unstable, uneven, or slippery work surfaces and floor holes that workers can fall through.
- Improper use, selection, or construction of scaffolds.
- Failure to lock wheels prior to mounting mobile work platforms.
How Construction Companies Can Prevent Scaffolding Falls
The CDC offers a checklist that construction companies should follow to prevent scaffolding falls among construction workers.
- Construction companies should train workers on how to set up scaffolding according to safety guidelines and ensure all setups are properly supervised and fully inspected prior to use.
- Scaffolding should be set up only on stable ground or surfaces.
- Whenever a scaffolding platform is more than 10 feet above a lower level, construction companies need to install guardrails or a fall arrest system for the protection of their workers.
- Construction companies must ensure scaffolding is fully planked to reduce the fall risk for workers
- Scaffolding should always be fully secured, which means locking the wheels on mobile scaffolds.
- Construction companies should ensure workers have safe access to get on and off scaffolding.
Safe Work Environments are a Necessity
Construction sites are some of the most dangerous workplaces imaginable. When it comes to workplace safety, the stakes are high for construction workers. It’s up to construction companies to ensure that worksites are safe, workers are trained, and equipment is properly constructed and well-maintained.
When construction companies fall short of their responsibilities, workers can suffer serious, potentially life-threatening injuries. Injured workers and their families should never be forced to pay the price for construction companies’ mistakes.
If a construction worker is injured or killed on the job, the path to compensation is not always as clear as it for other types of workers. That’s because construction workers are often considered independent contractors, which means they aren’t entitled to traditional workers’ compensation benefits.
However, injured construction workers or families of construction workers who died on the job should know that there are often other paths available to get much-needed compensation for workplace injuries.
Let Fieger Law Help
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured on a construction site, the experienced Michigan construction site lawyers at Fieger Law can help. We have years of experience handling these types of cases, and we know what it takes to get you and your loved ones the compensation you’re entitled to.