The common causes of scaffolding injuries are carelessness and negligence by employers and sometimes by employees. That sounds rather harsh and blunt, but employers are well aware of their responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the regulations that followed in the wake of that Act. One piece of legislation in particular could not be more precise when it comes to the actions that are required to keep employees working with scaffolding safe.
Scaffolding injuries – the legal responsibility of employers
The Work at Height Regulations 2005 clearly places responsibility for the health and safety of employees working at height on their employers, managers and supervisors – in fact anybody who control their work. Briefly put, it also states that working at height must be planned, carried out by competent and adequately trained employees and that all risks must be identified and managed. It also states that the equipment used must be appropriate and adequate. Further requirements regarding equipment and personal protective equipment are included in The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992.
If all that legislation were not sufficient there is ample high quality guidance regarding working at height from trade organisations and the Health and Safety Executive. Why then are there still so many falls from height, many of them from scaffolding, happening in the UK every day? In one sample year, 2007-2008, 34 out of 74 fatal injuries suffered by construction workers were falls from height – and that was not a particularly bad year for such accidents. The HSE statistics show that approximately 5 construction workers fall from height every single day of the year.
What are the most common scaffolding accidents?
Well, how does all this seemingly systemic negligence and carelessness in scaffolding work reveal itself? Below are some of the most common factors in accidents involving scaffolding:
• Lack of adequate health and safety training for employees working at height. This can lead to unsafe behaviour such as running and jumping whilst on scaffolding platforms or exceeding the weight limits for a particular platform.
• Scaffolding poorly erected by inexperienced workers – this can cause accidents during erection and dismantling such as falls and objects falling from the structure as well as structural collapses when people are working on the scaffolding after construction. Common scaffolding construction faults include missing nuts and bolts, poorly supported bases, loose or cracked connectors and relying for support on a building or even a vehicle.
• Lack of or inadequate weekly inspections of the scaffolding.
• Work being undertaken in bad weather conditions such as snow and ice, heavy rain or high winds.
Health and safety does come with a cost in the form of time and attention to detail and money to ensure the best materials and equipment are used and that training is provided as necessary, but failing to address health and safety also always come with a price tag written, this time, in lost human lives and endless thousands of life changing injuries.
If you have been injured in a scaffolding accident at work, you could be entitled to claim compensation.
Tim Bishop is senior partner of Bonallack and Bishop – specialist Salisbury personal injury solicitors. For more information about how to make a personal injury claim, visit their website at http://www.the-personal-injury-solicitors.co.uk or phone them on 01722 422300.