Many construction sites require the use of scaffolding to reach higher elevations of structures that are being constructed, renovated, or painted. In Chicago, where there are numerous high-rise and multi-story buildings, scaffolding is a common site. When properly erected, scaffolding provides workers a safe way to access locations that are difficult to reach, a temporary location to store tools, and a stable working platform. Unfortunately, if not properly constructed, these structures can collapse, resulting in serious and often catastrophic injuries.
If you have been involved in a construction site scaffolding accident in Chicago, you have rights. Our legal team at Drake & Collopy, P.C., has decades of experience fighting for the rights of injured workers. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Guidelines to Use Construction Site Scaffolding Safely
According to a recent study, the majority of scaffolding accidents were caused by a support or planking failing or giving way. Scaffolding accidents may also occur due to the employee slipping or being hit by a falling object.
Taking steps to protect workers from potential scaffold-related incidents can help to prevent around 4,500 injuries and over 60 deaths each year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Accidents that involve scaffolding include (but aren’t limited to):
- Improper construction of scaffolding
- Workers falling due to inadequate fall protection
- Scaffolding failure at the attachment points
- Dropped materials or equipment
- Inadequate work rules and procedures
- Environmental conditions such as cold, rain, ice, and more
Scaffolding accidents can cause serious injuries, including:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
- Internal organ injuries
- Severe lacerations
People who are exposed to scaffolding hazards include those who erect and dismantle the structures, personnel who work on scaffolds, as well as the general public and other employees who are nearby these structures.
Preventing Scaffolding Accidents
There are certain steps that should be taken to ensure that scaffolding is safe to use. These include:
- Proper design. It’s important for the scaffolding to be able to support its own weight and a minimum of four times the max load being applied or moved to the scaffolding and the components. It is a good idea to consult with an engineer to ensure the heavier-load points are secured.
- Proper training. Employees should be properly trained on safety procedures involving scaffolding to ensure they are prepared for any situation that might arise.
- Proper fall protection. Employers should ensure that all workers have the needed fall protection equipment available to them. This may include guardrails, a full-body harness, and fall-arrest equipment including a vertical lifeline, rope grab, lanyard, and lifeline anchorage.
Scaffolding vendors and construction companies should have and follow guidelines for the proper erection, use, dismantling, and alteration of the scaffolding. It’s also necessary for supervisors to have the training, experience, and skill to make sure installation is safe and that dismantling is based on the specifications of the manufacturer.
Workers’ Compensation and Third-Party Claims in Chicago Scaffolding Accidents
In any workplace accident involving injury, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation system provides benefits to a worker’s medical expenses and compensation for their disability. In the case of a worker’s death, the workers’ compensation system provides benefits to surviving dependents, such as the worker’s spouse and children.
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. Benefits are provided regardless of whether the employer was negligent in causing the accident. However, the injured worker is not allowed to sue their employer for additional compensation.
However, if someone other than the employer is responsible for the worker’s injury, the injured worker may pursue a separate personal injury or wrongful death claim against that party. This option is often available in scaffolding accidents where scaffolding has been supplied and/or erected by a different company than the employer on a construction site. A third-party claim could seek compensation for pain and suffering, lost income, loss of a normal life, and other damages above and beyond the benefits available under the workers’ compensation system.
Let Our Legal Team Help with Your Case
When it comes to scaffolding accidents, you have options and rights. Contact our legal team at Drake & Collopy, P.C., for assistance. We have decades of experience handling both workers’ compensation and third-party personal injury claims on behalf of injured workers. Call us for your free consultation.