Scaffold Accidents: What Can Happen When You Hire Unreliable Scaffolding?

January 31, 2019

Every construction site worker has heard a scaffolding horror story. In fact, new workers are shown examples of what can go wrong when they have a scaffolding-related accident. The graphic film clips highlight worst-case scenarios by spilling fake blood. That's because real accidents can be gruesome. Come on, much as you'd rather avoid the sights and situations, we need to see what happens when unreliable scaffolding is utilized.

Worst-Case Scenarios

Safety experts imagine worst-case incidents all day long. That's their job. They collect statistics, know how many injuries have occurred over a predetermined span of time, and they even know the causes. Broken bones, disfiguring injuries, even fatalities, every piece of data is relentlessly collected. They know the limits of the human body, how a fatal injury can be acquired, even when a scaffolding fall takes place above a few metres. Then, with the damage done, there are liabilities to work out. Unfortunately, the condition of the scaffolding will always fall under the scrutiny of a safety inspection board. Sure, perhaps the accident was caused by horseplay or substance abuse, but the eye of blame will always float inexorably towards the condition of the scaffolding.

The Burden of Proof Safety Net

Like the fall prevention systems that physically protect worker health, burden of proof procedures check scaffolding integrity. In short, is the staging a reliable construct? Competent person inspections and safety checklists partner with component maintenance checks and double-redundancy safety systems to assure an absolutely secure working environment. The checks and inspections are documented. There's a paper trail, one that can be traced by an investigating authority, should the worst happen. Now, assuming a guilty part is found during the investigation, why was the scaffolding unreliable?

Safety-Assured Erection Practices

A whole list of possible causative factors could be added here, but the entire matter boils down to a few simple facts. First of all, was the erection carried out by a reputable scaffolding company? Next, was there an inspection program in play? These two bookending company resources exist to assure a healthy safety margin. Without them, an unreliable framework could collapse under its own weight, which would lead to at-height worker injury and harm to any nearby site personnel.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Unreliable scaffolding is inherently unstable. Safety features are missing, anchoring mechanisms are loose or damaged, tubular members damaged or corroded, and ground-based elements are sadly mismanaged. In this latter instance, a patch of muddy ground could undermine the whole tower. Then, treacherously unstable, injuries occur, fatalities become likely, and liabilities are assigned. To aid such investigations, scaffolding chargehands document every single action and every stage of every inspection program.

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