Personal Injuries Caused by Scaffold Accidents in Massachusetts

Construction work is one of the most hazardous occupations in the U.S. Workers are exposed daily to hazards such as falling objects, electrocution, toxic chemicals, negligent driving of vehicles, and defective equipment.  A particular hazard in Massachusetts construction work is from scaffolds.

Scaffolding is a necessary aspect of construction work with around 65% of all construction workers having to work on a scaffold but that results in approximately 4,500 injury accidents and over 60 fatalities. 

A scaffold is a temporary structure or platform constructed on or that abuts the side of a building that allows workers to erect a building, make repairs, or for cleaning.  Construction workers are often at heights far above the ground or street but have no other choice on how to perform these necessary tasks. 

What are the Causes of Scaffolding Accidents?

Why are there so many scaffold accidents?  Because these structures are temporary and workers are exposed to the elements and other hazards common to construction work, it is no secret that being on a scaffold presents considerable risks.  Most scaffolding accidents are caused by these factors:

  • Improper assembly of the platform that is incapable of handling the weight of workers or provides a balanced structure
  • Defective guardrails, planks, braces and counterweights (study from National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries showed that this leads to 72% of accidents on a scaffold)
  • Slip and falls from loss of balance 
  • Struck by falling objects
  • Collapse of the structure
  • Overloading
  • Electrocution from exposure to electrical wiring
  • Failure to inspect and/or maintain the structure 
  • Failure of workers to wear appropriate personal protection equipment or have adequate safety protection (lifelines, harnesses, safety nets)

Scaffolding injuries are often catastrophic if not fatal since workers are at such extreme heights. These include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Broken limbs
  • Internal injuries
  • Torn ligaments
  • Paralysis 

How are Scaffolds Regulated?

Construction work is highly regulated, but accidents still occur.  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandates strict regulations for construction workers who are above 6-feet.  This and other regulations are applicable to employers, contractors, subcontractors, supervisors and workers. Some of these regulations that apply to scaffolds are:

  • Locking scaffolding wheels before use
  • Not moving the platform when occupied
  • Inspecting the scaffold before each shift
  • No one is to work in the fall zone beneath the scaffold
  • Planks and walk boards must be at least 36-inches below the top of the scaffold
  • Use proper protective equipment
  • Be able to support at least 4-times the scaffold’s maximum load capacity
  • Suspension ropes able to support at least 6-times the maximum load capacity

After any accident, inspectors will closely scrutinize these and other regulations to determine if there was a violation and issue fines if found.

Scaffolding Accident Claims

Anyone injured in the workplace or while engaged in a work-related activity may collect workers compensation benefits from their employer, regardless of the injured worker contributed to his/her own injuries (with some exceptions) and without having to prove liability by the employer.

However, these benefits are often inadequate to compensate a seriously injured worker or the family of a worker who suffered fatal injuries.  A personal injury attorney who handles construction injury accidents can investigate your accident, gather witness statements, and examine investigative reports from OSHA and others to determine if the contractor, a subcontractor, vendor, or manufacturer of defective equipment was responsible for your accident injuries.

Often, a subcontractor may have negligently constructed the scaffold by having suspension cables or ropes that were unable to handle the load on the structure, or used planks or boards that upon proper inspection would have alerted them that they were incapable of handling the load. A worker working for another company above the scaffold might have carelessly dropped a heavy object that struck a scaffold worker, or there was no safety net provided below the scaffold. 

These accident claims are often complex and require a comprehensive knowledge of the applicable regulations and how they were violated in your case.  Only retain an experienced personal injury attorney who has successfully handled construction accident claims. 

Also, be aware that the statute of limitations for filing an accident claim in Massachusetts is 3-years from the date of the accident. 

Retain a Personal Injury Attorney from Burns and Jain

Construction accident claims are often difficult to handle and typically involve catastrophic injuries to the claimants that will affect them for the remainder of their lives. The attorneys at Burns and Jain have handled numerous construction claims over many years with successful results to the satisfaction of our clients. Call our office at (617) 227-7423 for a free consultation.

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