The U.S. Department of Labor knows how risky working in a construction site can be. All the sharp and heavy tools and machinery, hazardous substances, greasy and dusty surroundings, electrical wires extending from one working area to another, jobs that need to be done on top of stairs, ladders or scaffolds, uneven floors, and so forth; any of these can cause accidents and injuries which may end either a worker’s career or life. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of work-related accidents and illnesses are also always higher in construction sites than in any other type of working environment, and that the identified top four causes of injuries are electrocution, getting caught-in-between, being struck (by a construction equipment or vehicle, or by a falling object), and falls, especially elevated falls.
All types of working environments should be kept healthy and safe for all workers/employees. This duty of ensuring safety and health in the workplace is placed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under the care of employers. Due to this, employers should make sure that they hire only qualified employees, that all employees are trained on how to keep their workplace safe, are knowledgeable about the use/operation of dangerous tools and hazardous substances, that standard safety equipment can be found in designated places, that employees are provided with safety gears, and that these gears are always worn in work areas.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the branch of the federal government that enforces the healthy and safe workplace rule. It also sets standards on the proper use construction equipment and tools to ensure the safety of workers in general. One example of these standards is the 1971 regulation on the requirements regarding the use of scaffolds.
Scaffolds are provisional work platforms used in construction work. These provide support for the workers and the materials they use. Some scaffolds are self-supporting, meaning these are firmly supported by poles or frames solidly positioned on the ground; others are called “suspension” scaffolds since these are supported by pulleys and ropes from overhead. Whether built from the ground or suspended from overhead, the greatest danger facing workers is scaffolding collapse, a consequence of scaffolds not properly assembled or if the number of workers and the weight of materials on the scaffold are too much for it to support. For added worker support, OSHA also requires the incorporation of guardrails to which workers can hold onto in cases of slips.
Despite the rules, training on safety, and personal duty to observe safety measures, accidents still occur, often with debilitating effects on the worker. If a scaffold collapses due to the incompetence or negligence of someone, even of an employer, the injured worker, according to Chicago accident attorneys at Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC, can either, under certain conditions, file a civil lawsuit against his/her employer or seek compensation with the Workers’ Compensation insurance program but will have to waive his or her right of suing his/her employer.