Scaffolds are one of the most commonly used types of equipment, enabling workers to perform any number of overhead jobs. Window washers, roofers, brick masons, painters, plasterers, maintenance employees, and construction workers all depend on temporary scaffolding to perform their job duties. Meant to provide a safe and stable footing above ground, scaffolding sometimes fails and workers fall to their death or are seriously injured.
Maryland workers who are injured in scaffolding accidents know that Steve Heisler, The Injury Lawyer, focuses his energies on getting just compensation for hardworking people who were injured on the job. Steve’s background as a union organizer is reflected in his dedication to defending the rights of workers to have a safe environment in which to earn a living. If you have been hurt in a scaffolding accident, you may be entitled to more than workers’ compensation. Contact the Law Offices of Steven Heisler today for help with your scaffolding injury. Call (410) 625-4878 or use our online contact form.
Types of Scaffolding
There are three main types of scaffolding:
- Supported scaffolds, which are platforms supported by rigid, load-bearing poles or frames. We typically see these in use in construction jobs.
- Suspended scaffolds, in which the platform is suspended by ropes from an overhead anchoring structure. Window washers are often seen working at great heights on suspended scaffolding.
- Aerial lifts mounted on vehicles are also considered to be a type of scaffolding. You may have heard them referred to as “cherry pickers.”
The Dangers of Scaffolding
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 57 workers fell to their deaths from scaffolds or staging platforms in 2012 and thousands more were injured. Those annual statistics are typical. In the vast majority of cases, the injury happened because (1) the platform or the support gave way, (2) the employee slipped, or (3) a worker was struck by a falling object.
Not only are the people who are using the scaffolding at risk, pedestrians or other workers on the ground can be hit by the collapsed scaffold or by equipment or debris that falls from it.
Scaffolding injuries typically occur because of one of the following:
- Fall from elevation because fall protection was inadequate or missing
- Scaffold collapse or bad planking gave way
- Falling tools or debris struck someone
- Electrocution from power lines.
Preventing Scaffolding Injuries
Recognizing that scaffolding accidents are highly preventable, OSHA has implemented numerous regulations to protect users. Some of the key provisions are:
- Fall protection (such as guardrails or fall arrest systems) must be provided for employees working at a 10-foot height above a lower level.
- Heights and placement of guardrails (toprails, crossbracing, midrails) are specified.
- A “competent person” must oversee erection and dismantling of supported scaffolds.
- Employers must provide safety training to each employee who will be working on a scaffold.
- Scaffolding must be inspected before each work shift and after any incident that could affect the safety of the apparatus.
- Each scaffold and scaffold component must support its own weight and at least 4 times the maximum intended load.
- A scaffold platform and walkway must be at least 18 inches wide.
Despite the plethora of state and federal regulations designed to prevent construction injuries, serious injuries and deaths still occur due to scaffolding accidents. The reasons: Companies sometimes fail to provide adequate training or safety equipment because they get complacent and are focused simply on getting the job done. Keeping workers safe costs them in time and money, and they may wrongly believe their bottom line will be enhanced by forgoing the extra expense of proper training, equipping and inspecting.
Compensation Available to Victims of Scaffolding Accidents
While Maryland workers who are injured on the job while performing their assigned duties are eligible to collect workers’ compensation, those funds are limited to medical expenses, loss of income and rehabilitation. In some cases, additional compensation may be sought from a party other than the employer, through a third-party civil action.
A number of parties may be implicated in a scaffolding accident, including subcontractors, manufacturers, leasing companies, vendors and equipment designers.
A third-party claim could result in an award of damages for present and future medical care and therapy, loss of future earning ability, pain and suffering, and scarring or disfigurement.
A Maryland jury recently awarded $21.7 million to a construction worker who was paralyzed from the neck down due to a work-related injury at a Pepco site in 2013. He was using scaffolding when he was struck by a transformer which was said to be de-energized but was not. The worker was thrown through the air, breaking his spine when he landed on concrete, and received electrical burns. The legal action alleged that Pepco negligently failed to turn off the electrical voltage, failed to properly ground the circuits, and failed to ensure that a qualified individual was supervising the crew. The jury originally awarded the man $35.9 million to cover both economic and non-economic damages, but that amount was reduced to $21.7 million because Maryland law caps non-economic damages at $770,000.
Steve Heisler, The Injury Lawyer
For more than 25 years, Steven Heisler has devoted his law practice to helping injured people and their families pursue compensation from negligent people and companies who caused them to be injured. Approaching each case with compassion and thorough investigation, Steve will leave no stone unturned in his goal of obtaining justice for those harmed by the actions or inactions of negligent employers, manufacturers and sub-contractors. If you or your loved one has been injured or killed in a scaffolding accident anywhere in Maryland, call the Baltimore injury lawyers of the Law Offices of Steven Heisler today at (410) 625-4878.