Common Accident Hazards
There are a few common variations of scaffolding accidents, but they all have one thing in common: the majority could have easily been prevented by more careful adherence to safety protocol. Among the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) top ten safety violations, fall protection and scaffolding violations rank at #1 and #3, respectively. Millions of workers are affected by these violations - an estimated 2.3 million US construction workers regularly work on scaffolds. Thousands of injuries and dozens of deaths could be prevented under optimal safety standards.
Slips, Trips, And Falls
Workers may slip or trip and fall if the scaffolding's walking conditions or fall protections are insufficient. Slip-resistant shoes are a must for maintaining necessary traction. Guardrails and harnesses can help prevent falls if a worker loses his or her balance.
Support Giving Way
Sometimes weak support will give way, causing a worker to fall through the scaffolding. Planking is required to support at least four times the intended load. It's important to avoid using defective or damaged materials. Sometimes, incompetent or negligent workers may cut corners and build scaffolding with insufficient support.
Struck By Falling Object
Sometimes, scaffolding workers are injured by an object dropped by another worker on a higher level. Ground-level workers may also be injured by these falling objects. Workers at high elevations should make sure their tools are secured in order to prevent these accidents. Even a one pound object can have a lethal impact when it falls from a high enough distance.
Recourse For Victims And Families
As we mentioned earlier, PA Workers' Compensation laws prevent employers from being sued for work-related accidents. Your Workers' Compensation insurance will provide for some of your post-accident expenses, including medical bills and lost wages. However, your employer and their insurance company will likely look for ways to limit or deny coverage.
When Can I Sue?
While you may not be permitted to sue your employer directly, you can still hold negligent parties liable for your injury expenses. Anyone with experience in the construction industry knows that job-sites are diverse. It's not like an office job where everyone is working for the same company. You're collaborating with various third parties to complete the job, including:
- Independent contractors
- Property owners
If any of these parties caused your accident through negligent behavior, a seasoned attorney with experience representing injured workers can help you hold them liable for damages.
Why Consider A Lawsuit?
Even when claims are accepted, the payouts may be insufficient for providing full compensation for victims. In Pennsylvania, wage-loss benefits only provide roughly two-thirds of your average weekly wage. You shouldn't be forced to take a pay cut after being injured by another worker's negligence. A lawsuit can hold a third party liable for other damages, such as:
- Past and future pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
- Loss of future income
- Punitive damages
- Loss of consortium for families
Workers suffer from much more than high medical bills and lost wages following an accident. Many are forced to endure long and painful recoveries. Less fortunate victims may be permanently disabled or unable to engage in activities they enjoyed before the accident. And every year, dozens of families lose loved ones in construction accidents.
Full compensation can help make the recovery process as smooth as possible for both victims and their families. At Monheit Law, our attorneys are prepared to fight for you and your family during this difficult time.
Construction Injury Resources