Workplace Accident Attorneys Serving Tacoma & Washington State
According to OSHA, there were 54 workplace fatalities in 2009 from scaffold accidents. Nearly three-fourths of workers involved in scaffold accidents attributed the accident to planking or supports giving way or to the employee slipping on the scaffolding. OSHA also estimates that 65 percent of those who work in the construction industry routinely work on scaffolds and ladders, therefore, it is not all that surprising that many construction site accidents involve scaffolds, hoists, or ladders. Construction site accidents related to ladders and scaffolding can be the result of one or more of the following factors:
- Damaged or missing guard rails from scaffolding;
- Damaged scaffold locking pins, motors or brackets;
- Ladders with defective feet or broken rungs;
- Exceeding the weight load for the equipment;
- Lack of qualified supervision;
- Failure to perform adequate and timely safety inspections for ladders and scaffolds;
- Improperly secured scaffolds or ladders, or
- Failure to provide employees with adequate safety equipment and/or appropriate training.
In some instances, a scaffold or a ladder could simply be defective, meaning the manufacturer of the defective ladder or scaffold could be liable for the accident and resulting injuries. In other cases, the contractor or employer on the site could have failed to ensure the scaffolding was properly installed. Employers are required to comply with all OSHA regulations related to the design and construction of scaffolds and ladders as well as inspections and safe use of the items.
Scaffolding, in particular, is so inherently dangerous that many serious accidents have occurred over the years. New York put a “Scaffold Law” into place in response to the dangerous nature of scaffolding, and the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries offers information regarding scaffold accidents in the state, as well as safety information concerning scaffolds. Scaffolding must be capable of supporting its own weight as well as four times the maximum intended load without failure, and suspension ropes must be able to support additional weight, under OSHA requirements.
All construction sites must have a person who inspects scaffolds on a daily basis, removing any scaffolds or scaffold parts which are damaged or worn. Employers who fail to follow the rules and regulations regarding scaffolds could face fines. The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries notes that 30 percent of all construction accidents in the state are the result of a fall. Of those, 25 percent fell from ladders, and 16 percent fell from scaffolds. 59 percent of the fatal falls were from a height of 25 feet or less.
The CDC notes that far too many employees do not understand how easy it is to fall from a ladder. In fact, the CDC also found that 43 percent of fatal falls over the last decade have involved a ladder, and an estimated 81 percent of fall injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms involve a ladder. Men have higher rates of fatal and non-fatal ladder falls, and ladder fall injuries tend to increase with age. The fatality rates for ladder falls are significantly higher for self-employed workers than for salaried/wage workers, probably due to the fact that there is less oversight for self-employed workers. The highest number of ladder falls occur in the construction industry, followed by the mining industry and installation, maintenance, and repair occupations. Head injuries are implicated in nearly half of all fatal ladder falls, while non-fatal ladder fall injuries usually involve the arms and legs.
Who is Responsible for Ladder and Scaffold Accidents?
One of the primary issues involved with scaffold and ladder falls may center around who is responsible for the accident. There are a number of complex issues regarding which party is liable, and whether or not engineering or design issues were responsible. The owner of the property could be liable if he or she was aware the scaffolds or ladders were not up to code or were being improperly used. The general contractor on the job or sub-contractors could be liable if they failed to offer safety training regarding ladders and scaffolds or if they were aware of a hazard associated with the scaffolds or ladders.
Potential Compensation You Can Receive Following a Ladder or Scaffold Accident
If your ladder or scaffold accident occurred at work, Washington workers’ compensation will likely be your means of compensation—and could also limit your ability to sue your employer unless the employer was aware of an unsafe work condition or violated OSHA regulations. If there were violations, you could have a valid claim against your employer. What you must remember following a ladder or scaffold accident at work is how important it is to act quickly. Of course, your first concern is your health, and obtaining medical treatment for your injuries, but if you are able, definitely take photographs to document the safety issue which led to your accident. If you wait, the safety issue will likely be fixed quickly to avoid any liability.
Ladder falls can cause a surprising amount of damage, even in a relatively shortfall. You could suffer fractures, a concussion, a traumatic brain injury, back and neck injuries, or spinal cord injuries. Many of these injuries can be extremely severe, preventing you from returning to work and resulting in medical bills which seem to be never-ending. If safety violations caused your accident, you could be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost current and future wages and pain and suffering.
How Palace Law Can Help Following Your Ladder or Scaffold Accident
Whether your ladder or scaffold accident is a clear workers’ compensation claim or you have grounds for a personal injury claim, Palace Law can help. Following a ladder or scaffold accident in Washington, you could deal with many complex issues regarding liability, and whether engineering or design defects were involved. The Palace Law attorneys are experienced at both work injury and product liability law and can advise you on your options for financial recovery. You can call our office for a free consultation with an experienced attorney who will review the facts of your case and offer comprehensive solutions for you and your family. Contact Palace Law today.