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Scaffold Collapse Study Highlights Safety Concerns

The Construction Accident Lawyers at Block O'Toole & Murphy are often asked to advise clients who were involved in a construction accident involving a scaffold. Today we talk about an accident that occurred far away from the gritty streets of New York City, yet with implications for all workers in the metropolitan area. Why? The case may help all of us to better understand how construction work can be performed in a safer way.

A construction accident in the State of Washington was critically analyzed by an organization focused on reducing the number of worker related injuries and fatalities at construction sites. The findings of the study are revealing and offer a roadmap for scaffold safety. The case involved a 54-year-old carpenter who suffered 2 broken legs when the scaffold he was working from collapsed. The collapse caused the worker, who had more than 10 years of experience in the field, to fall 13 feet and injure himself. The man was working on an aluminum scaffold called a pump Jack scaffold. The scaffold was owned by his employer and had been assembled about 5 days prior to the frightening collapse.

Things you need to know about Scaffold Safety at a Construction Site

The accident occurred while the injured worker was standing on a scaffold plank about 13 feet off of the ground. The scaffold poles separated and caused the scaffold to collapse. This led to the carpenter crashing to the ground. He sustained two broken legs and was compelled to endure multiple surgeries. According to reports, he underwent nearly a year of rehabilitation and has been unable to return to the work force.


So, why are New York Construction Accident Lawyers talking about a case which occurred in Washington more than a year ago? Well, an investigation ensued and a study was conducted based on the known facts with the aim of coming up with some practical mandates to make the use of scaffolds at a construction site safer.

The investigation reached the following conclusions:

  • The scaffold was incorrectly erected. The screws that the manufacturer indicated were required to secure the bracing to the roof were not used. Instead, finishing and roofing nails were employed.
  • An inexperienced and well credentialed person was not involved in the assembly and erection of the scaffold.
  • Personal fall protection was not used by the injured worker. To be clear, it is unclear whether or not the employer provided the appropriate fall protection.

The study came up with some practical suggestions for all workers, safety supervisors and employers to follow when using a scaffold:

  • Only qualified persons should be involved in erecting, moving, altering and dismantling a scaffold.
  • Regular inspections of a scaffold should be conducted by a competent, experienced worker. The inspections should be performed prior to assembly as well as during the work.
  • Appropriate bracing should be used for a scaffold. No exceptions.
  • Fall protection devices should be provided to any worker who is caused to labor on a scaffold that is more than 10 feet in the air. This is far too often ignored, usually for poor reasons.
  • Scaffolds should be assembled in accordance with the requirements outlined by the manufacturer. Adherence to this should be precise.

Despite this scaffold accident occurring in the State of Washington, the findings are relevant anywhere in the country. Worker safety remains a critical issue all over the world. Significantly, workers are too often required to work in an unsafe environment. People everywhere need to give the issue of worker safety more attention.

The Construction Accident Lawyers at Block O'Toole & Murphy have a long and proud history of representing and fighting for injured workers. The firm has recovered nearly $1 billion in verdicts and settlements.

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A great deal of those results involve helping injured workers and their families. You may call the firm at any time for a free consultation at 212.736.5300.

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