Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Scaffold Safety and Minnesota Workers' Compensation

According to OSHA, at least 2.3 million workers, or 65% of workers in the construction industry, perform their jobs perched on top of scaffolds. 

Scaffold-related accidents can easily result in serious injury or death, and OSHA strictly regulates their use. Annually, on average, 60 workers are killed, and another 4,500 are injured as the result of scaffold accidents.
In our Minnesota workers’ compensation practice, we have handled a number of workers’ compensation claims due to scaffolding accidents. These injuries have included traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, back injuries, neck injuries, shoulder injuries, and knee injuries.

Most commonly, these injuries stem from falling off a scaffold, but we’ve also seen cases involving scaffold collapse or overturning, or workers being struck by objects falling from scaffolding overhead.

Minnesota workers utilizing scaffolding should be aware of the following safety requirements:
  • Scaffolds must be specifically designed for that purposes. Never jury-rig a scaffold from ladders and planks. 
  • Supported scaffolds must be placed on base plates or other firm foundations, must have platforms at least 18 inches wide, and must be built to withstand at least four times the intended load. 
  • Suspended scaffolds must be able to withstand six times there intended load, and have specific requirements about the wire rope used to lift them, and how it must be maintained. 
  • Scaffolds require toprails and toeboards. If there are people working or passing beneath the scaffold, there must be a screen installed between the toprails and toeboards. 
  • Before every shift, a “competent person” must inspect the scaffold. 
  • Debris nets or other protective devices must be used under scaffolds if anyone can pass beneath. People working beneath scaffolds must wear hardhats, and people working on top of scaffolds should wear hardhats, too. 
  • Workers on scaffold should wear shoes with nonslip soles move carefully, and avoid leaving materials on the scaffolds that might cause a tripping hazard or fall on workers beneath the scaffold. 
  • Fall protection devices are required when working more than 10 feet above the ground or the next level down. 
  • Care should be taken by workers at ground level to avoid running into or hitting a scaffold with heavy equipment. 
  • Scaffold work should be avoided in stormy or windy weather, or when platforms are slippery. 
In Minnesota, if you’ve suffered a work-related injury, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, including medical expense benefits, wage loss benefits, permanent partial disability benefits, and/or rehabilitation benefits. Scaffold accidents often result in serious injury.

A Minnesota workers’ compensation attorney can help make sure that you get the benefits you’re entitled to. For a free, no-obligation workers’ compensation case evaluation, call Meuser & Associate at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email. 


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