The U.S. Occupational Safety Health Administration, OSHA, undertook an extensive review of scaffolding accidents in the workplace. In addition, these types of accidents occur in residential settings as well, among people involved in home improvement projects. Although the data is more limited on what occurs in regard to scaffold accidents in the private sector, the statistics gleaned in commercial sector are useful in getting a feel for how extensive these types of incidents are in the United States.
OSHA estimates that there are about 4,500 scaffolding accidents in the commercial sector and approximately 50 fatalities. Hundreds of people are injured in residential scaffolding accidents annually, as opposed to incidents associated with ladders. Moreover, there are scaffold-related fatalities in residential settings annually as well.
Preventability of Scaffold Accidents
OSHA standards technically only apply to the workplace. However, the standards established for proper use of scaffolding established by the federal government agency should be followed in a residential setting as well.
With this admonition in mind, multiple studies reported by OSHA reveal that in 77 percent of scaffold accident cases, proper safety protocols are not in use. The most common failure is a lack of proper guardrails on a scaffold. These studies also indicated that many workers who utilize scaffolding do not have proper training. The failure to obtain proper training for using scaffolding is higher in the non-commercial, residential sector.
These shortcomings underscore that a significant majority of scaffolding accidents are preventable through the use of proper safety protocols. There are instances in which some sort of design or manufacturing defect does cause or contribute to a scaffold accident and associated injuries.
Insurance and a Scaffold Accident at Your Home
If you were involved in some sort of home improvement project and sustained a scaffold-related injury, your homeowner’s insurance may come into play. In other words, you may be able to submit a claim to your homeowner’s insurance company, depending on the provisions of your insurance policy and the facts surrounding the accident.
If there is a demonstrable manufacturer’s defect associated with the scaffolding, you may be able to pursue a claim for compensation against the maker of the scaffold. That process is likely to include filing a claim for damages, injuries, and losses with the manufacturer’s insurance company. Such a scenario could also end up in a lawsuit if the manufacturer’s insurance company does not provide you with a reasonable claim settlement.
Depending on what state you live in, you may have an issue with what is called contributory negligence if you are injured in a scaffold accident at your home. What this means is that you will face the prospect of a reduction in a claim settlement if your own negligence is deemed a contributing factor in a scaffold accident. While you may have a situation in which there is a manufacturer’s defect associated with a scaffold, if you demonstrably failed to follow standard safety protocols, the law in your state may require the adjustment of a claim settlement or court case judgment based on your contributory negligence.
Insurance and a Scaffold Accident at Work
If you are required to use scaffolding during the course of your employment, and you are injured doing so, you likely will face pursuing a worker’s compensation claim. If the accident occurred during the scope of your employment, your state’s worker’s compensation laws come into play.
Worker’s compensation provides you with coverage for a number of different types of losses associated with a scaffold accident, including for your medical bills and expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages.
Injuries Sustained by a Scaffold Accident Caused by a Third Party
With surprising regularity, people unassociated with a construction project are injured merely because they were near, but not actually on, a site. For example, you could have been walking down the sidewalk near a construction site when a plank from a scaffold broke lose, fell, and injured you.
In this type of situation, your first step in obtaining the compensation you deserve would be pursuing a claim with the insurance company providing liability coverage associated with the construction project or the owner of the property.
Legal Advice and Assistance
Scaffold accidents can result in serious injuries. In addition, for some of the reasons outlined previously, these claims can be challenging to pursue. With these considerations in mind, if you have been injured in a scaffold accident, reaching out to consult with a qualified attorney may be a wise course to take. As a general rule, a personal injury or worker’s comp attorney does not charge for an initial consultation with an injured person.
Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who writes for Scaffold Store, the favorite and trusted scaffold supplier of the largest contractors.