According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), about 2.3 million construction workers in the United States regularly work on scaffolds. In major cities like Chicago, thousands of construction workers, painters, window washers, and laborers climb up on and work off ladders and scaffolds every day. An estimated 4,500 construction worker injuries occur yearly, and nearly 500 deaths alone result from ladders, scaffolding or falling objects or equipment. If you were injured falling from a ladder or scaffold, or were struck by a falling object that dropped from one, you should seek the counsel of a skilled Chicago ladder and scaffold injury lawyer to assist you with your claim.
What is Scaffolding?
Scaffolding is a temporary vertical and horizontal framing platform that is assembled from individual sections permitting workers to execute their job duties at high elevations. Scaffolding is used to erect new buildings, conduct cleaning and preservation work on areas such as brick exteriors and glass windows, and do restorations. Since it usually consists of steel and/or some form of heavy metal (combined sometimes with wood beams), improper assembly can result in collapse; injuring not only the workers standing thereon, but also nearby crew, pedestrians and passersby.
Causes of Ladder & Scaffolding Injuries
Ladder & scaffolding injuries and deaths frequently result from one of the following:
- A worker falling;
- Falling objects;
- Collapse of scaffold or ladder due to unsafe assembly;
- Electrocution from a metal scaffold or ladder touching power lines;
- Defective product design;
- Aged materials;
- Poor or faulty safety equipment; and
- Wet or slippery surfaces.
Injuries from Ladder and Scaffolding Accidents
Injuries resulting from ladder and scaffolding accidents run the gamut from minor cuts to major debilitating injuries to fatalities. Some examples include:
- Brain injuries;
- Neck and spinal cord injuries often resulting in paralysis;
- Back injuries resulting in localized and chronic pain;
- Injuries to limbs; such as broken arms, legs, etc., including amputations; and
- Bruises and abrasions.
Ladder and Scaffolding Accident Prevention
A number of safety practices are recommended to prevent ladder and scaffolding accidents. These include:
- Carefully following assembly guidelines;
- Employing recommended personal fall arrest systems;
- Making access as easy and safe as possible;
- Following weight specifications;
- Conducting careful and routine inspections of equipment;
- Using equipment that is OSHA-compliant;
- Securing tools, equipment and materials to prevent falling; and
- Erecting appropriate barricades and signs in hazardous areas.
The danger of ladders and scaffolds is so great that their use, assembly and design are regulated by both federal and state laws. As a result, every work site must conform to specific safety regulations designed to protect against accidents; addressing such items as proper fall protection equipment, lifelines, harnesses, lanyards, and safety nets. Despite all the regulations, however, serious injuries and deaths still occur when companies disregard the regulations and put cost over safety.
If you or someone you love has suffered from a ladder or scaffold injury, it is important to have experienced counsel by your side that can thoroughly investigate the incident and build a strong case that holds the responsible party fully accountable. For over two decades, Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C. has been representing victims injured in ladder and scaffolding accidents in Chicago, Cook County and throughout the nation. We understand the tricks the other side plays to limit their liability, and we examine all legal avenues to recover just compensation for our clients. Contact an aggressive Chicago personal injury lawyer at HM&M today for your free consultation.