Scaffolding is a common sight at construction locations. Improper construction or use of scaffolding can lead to serious injuries or deaths. Hill Law Firm has handled scaffolding related injury cases in San Antonio. On this episode, we talk about how violations of OSHA scaffolding regulations are one of the most common reasons OSHA cites employers.
Justin Hill: Welcome to Hill Law Firm Cases, a podcast discussing real-world cases handled by Justin Hill and the Hill Law Firm. For confidentiality reasons, names and amounts of any settlements have been removed. However, the facts are real, and these are the cases we handle on a day-to-day basis.
Justin Hill: In this series, we’ve been talking about the most common causes of OSHA violations in worksite injuries and deaths. We get called from a lot of injured workers and their families, and we always have to sit down and talk to them regarding what happened on the job, what the employer should have been doing, what the employee should have been doing in some circumstances. One of the questions we always ask is, did OSHA investigate? OSHA doesn’t investigate every incident, but they investigate a lot of them.
In those investigations, they’ll determine whether or not the employer did what they were supposed to in following OSHA regulations. If they find that the employer did not follow OSHA regulations, oftentimes, they’ll fine them or, in some way, sanction them. After they finish their investigations, oftentimes, we’re able to get a copy of their full investigative report. Oftentimes, that’ll include witness statements, interviews, pictures, and their conclusions of what the employer did wrong.
We’ve been talking about what the most commonly cited violations are for OSHA violations in these investigations, and the number three most commonly cited regards the general safety requirements regarding scaffolding. The discussion around scaffolding typically is that it should be designed by a qualified person, constructed in accordance with the design, and loaded and in accordance with a good design.
Employers are bound to protect construction workers and other workers from falls and falling objects while they’re working at, near, or on scaffolding at heights of 10 feet or higher. We all know what scaffolding is. It’s that framework of what looks like a metal skeleton with pieces of wood plank going up the side of the building, and maybe, people are using it to paint or construct a new structure. Due to the heights and what’s going on, people fall or are hit by falling objects often.
In a recent study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 72% of workers injured in scaffolding-related accidents were due to either the planking or other support structure giving way and falling or the employee slipping due to the planking or structure being slick, and also people on the scaffolding structure being struck by falling objects. OSHA’s regulations are very in-depth and detailed. Employers are required to know these regulations, and oftentimes, they’ll have OSHA-certified employees on the job site to ensure that everybody is satisfying the OSHA regulations regarding whatever dangerous activity they’re performing at the time.
OSHA has regulations regarding multiple different types of scaffolding or raised working equipment. For example, they have regulations on scissor lifts and working safely with scissor lifts, ladderjack scaffolds, supported scaffolds and working safely with those, tube and coupler scaffolds, narrow frame scaffolds, general scaffolding. They also have regulations regarding scaffolding in construction environments, as well as shipyard environments.
What we know is that if you’re working from height around dangerous objects or heavy objects or falling objects, that safety should be paramount. The scaffolding requirements by OSHA are intended to make sure that workplaces stay safe when people are working at, near, or on scaffolding. We’ll continue to cover the most common OSHA violations, but it’s worth noting that in San Antonio, with the boom in construction, more people are working at heights and on scaffolding, and unless employers are doing what they’re supposed to do and being as safe as they possibly can, that some employees will be injured working at, near, or on scaffolding.