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Scaffolding dangers and safety: What you should know

Scaffolds are a common on construction sites -- whether there's a major job happening or just some minor work being done. They're also a common cause of major injuries -- it only takes one fall to change a worker's life forever due to permanent injuries (assuming he or she even survives).

How dangerous are scaffolds, really? Consider just these two startling statistics:

  • Your chance of surviving a fall onto concrete or another hard surface from just 11 feet off the ground is only around 50 percent.
  • The average fall occurs from a 12-15 foot elevation.

Those facts alone should put the dangers of a scaffolding fall into perspective for just about anyone -- unfortunately, construction company foremen and owners still don't always take the time to inform employees of the dangers they face or enforce on-site safety regulations.

To keep yourself safer, remember to follow these rules while on scaffolding:

  • Inspect before you climb -- do not climb up if the scaffold leans, seems unsteady, has any damaged parts, is not fully planked or not level.
  • Insist that every scaffold have a guardrail.
  • Check to see if the wheels on a mobile scaffold are properly locked before you climb up.
  • If the scaffold is moved to reach a new point, make sure that it is properly leveled again.
  • Use the proper safety equipment, including belts, vests and lanyards. Always keep your safety lanyard attached when you are working 10 feet off the ground or higher.
  • Never jump from one scaffold to another.
  • Never leave loose tools or other objects that could be tripping hazards on the scaffold's floorboards -- even if you know they're there, your co-worker might not.

If you've been injured in a scaffolding accident during construction, it's wisest to speak to an attorney before you talk to insurance companies or try to handle things on your own. An attorney can help protect your rights and make certain that you get the compensation that you're rightfully due.

Source: Amerisafe, "Basic Scaffold Safety," accessed Sep. 18, 2017

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