Workplace falls remain one of the most common kinds of work accidents. On construction sites and worksites, one of the main causes of falls is lack of fall protection. Last year, fall protection and scaffold safety violations were among the top 3 most frequently cited OSHA violations. In addition, fall protection and scaffold safety issues produced the highest penalties in 2012. *Source: www.OSHA.gov.
Fall protection is required when a worker is on a scaffold 10 feet above a lower level. See 1926.451(g)(1). Fall protection is either a “personal fall arrest system” or a guardrail. Fall arrest systems include a full body harness, connectors and anchors.
Related Scaffold Accident Q&A: How do I prove that my work related scaffold accident was due to negligent construction?
OSHA Regulations for Fall Protection on Certain Scaffolds
OSHA regulations require either a fall arrest system or guardrail, depending on the type of scaffold used. Below are a few OSHA regulations which indicate the type of fall arrest system to be used:
1926.451(g)(1)(i): Each employee on a boatswains’ chair, catenary scaffold, float scaffold, needle beam scaffold, or ladder jack scaffold shall be protected by a personal fall arrest system
1926.451(g)(1)(ii): Each employee on a single-point or two-point adjustable suspension scaffold shall be protected by both a personal fall arrest system and guardrail system
1926.451(g)(1)(iii): Each employee on a crawling board (chicken ladder) shall be protected by a personal fall arrest system, a guardrail system (with minimum 200 pound toprail capacity), or by a three-fourth inch (1.9 cm) diameter grabline or equivalent handhold securely fastened beside each crawling board
1926.451(g)(1)(iv): Each employee on a self-contained adjustable scaffold shall be protected by a guardrail system (with minimum 200 pound toprail capacity) when the platform is supported by the frame structure, and by both a personal fall arrest system and a guardrail system (with minimum 200 pound toprail capacity) when the platform is supported by ropes
In many scaffold fall accident cases, neither a guardrail nor a body harness was used or provided. If they were provided, workers did not use them properly (i.e., failed to tie in correctly). Employers must provide adequate training on the proper use of fall arrest systems. Also, in some instances, a body harness may be defective, thus failing and causing a worker to fall. In those situations, a defective products case would be brought against the body harness manufacturer, retailer, distributor, etc.
Suggested Reading: Scaffold Collapse Accident Prevention – The Importance of Proper Bracing
Workers who suffer injuries in scaffold fall accidents may be able to obtain financial compensation, in addition to, workers’ compensation benefits. One of the most important factors in the success of a scaffold fall accident lawsuit is proper investigation of the reason for the fall and/or inspection of the scaffold after the accident.
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