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Scaffold accidents: 10,000 employees injured at work every year

Construction workers in Colorado and elsewhere put their lives on the line every time they climb onto a scaffold. Thousands of construction workers are injured at work every year due to the collapse of scaffold structures. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently reported the shocking details of a contactor in another state that continues to expose employees to life-threatening hazards -- despite being issued with citations for scaffolding hazards on 41 previous occasions.

Employees may find some level of comfort in OSHA's commitment to enforcing compliance with safety regulations. While this may save some workers from suffering severe injuries, the disregard of some business owners is a significant concern. OSHA records show that about 10,000 workers' injuries per year are scaffold-related, and approximately 9 percent of construction worker fatalities involve scaffolds.

This state of affairs may be caused by the fact that a quarter of employees participating in the erection and installation of scaffolds are untrained in assembly and safe practices, nor are they qualified to inspect the structures for safety. Such inspections are vital at the start of each work shift. Proper erection of platforms is imperative, and overloading scaffolds can have disastrous consequences. All workers on scaffolds must wear fall protection and know which safety precautions to take to prevent accidents.

Colorado workers who have been injured at work -- and families who have lost loved ones in on-the-job accidents – may pursue financial assistance through the state-regulated workers' compensation insurance system. Medical expenses and/or end-of-life costs are typically included in the benefits. Furthermore, the insurance program may award wage-replacement packages to make up for lost income. For assistance with the administrative and legal proceedings of such claims, the victims or surviving family members can retain the services of an experienced workers' compensation attorney.

Source: safety.blr.com, "Employer not getting the message on scaffolding hazards; OSHA citations upheld", Dec. 1, 2016

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