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Reducing scaffolding accidents at construction sites

Many of the accidents that occur at construction sites in Missouri involve scaffolding. In fact, scaffolding accidents collectively cost U.S. employers $90 million annually in lost work days due to related injuries. Improper scaffolding consistently ranks as one of the top OSHA violations. It's also estimated that more than 2 million construction workers, representing nearly 70 percent of the construction industry, frequently perform work involving scaffolding. This is why OSHA has established scaffolding-related guidelines to help improve worker safety when scaffolding is used.

According to OSHA, the first step an employer can take to reduce workers' compensation claims related to scaffolding accidents is to firmly secure it. Scaffolding must be accessible by ladders and stairwells, placed 10 feet away from power lines and able to support its own weight along with four times its maximum load capacity without displacement or settling. The agency also prohibits the use of barrels, concrete blocks and other unstable objects to support scaffolds or planks. Also, a competent person must supervise scaffolding dismantling and movement.

Guardrails, mid-rails and toe-boards need to be included for added worker safety. OSHA also requires employers to immediately repair or replace braces and other damaged scaffolding accessories. Additionally, scaffold plank grade material must be used to tightly plank platforms, and regular inspections need to be done by a person qualified to do them. Rigging on suspension scaffolds has to be inspected before and after each shift. Employers are also required to keep heat sources away from synthetic and natural rope used on scaffolds. Diagonal braces can be used as fall protection only if employees are informed of the potential hazards associated with using them.

Should a construction site accident occur involving scaffolding or other equipment, a workers' compensation lawyer may communicate with a worker's comp insurer on behalf of an injured employee. They may also be able to spot common negotiating tricks and tactics used by some insurance companies. If a claim is denied, an attorney may be able to gather the required medical documentation to support the claim. If a settlement can't be reached, representation might be provided at a workers' comp hearing.

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