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Scaffolding accidents often caused by safety violations

Construction workers in Illinois may be concerned about their safety on the job, especially if they work on scaffolding and at heights. In the construction industry, accidents involving scaffolds are among the most common. In addition, workplace safety practices for scaffolding are often poor and in violation of federal regulations. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), scaffolding problems are the third most common violation found by the agency. In 2016 alone, 3,900 citations were issued for dangerous scaffolds.

Since scaffolding often is positioned at substantial heights, falls and other incidents could lead to catastrophic injuries or even fatalities. Scaffolds are common in construction; indeed, 65 percent of workers in the industry frequently operate on them. Every year, 4,500 employees are injured on scaffolding and 60 lose their lives in fatal workplace accidents. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that 72 percent of these incidents can be attributed to falls and dangerous or deficient platform structures.

OSHA provides a number of guidelines that aim to improve workplace safety for construction workers on scaffolding. For example, scaffolds must be constructed soundly, with sufficient strength to bear their own weight as well as four times the intended load without settling. The scaffold must stand on solid footing, and barrels, boxes, concrete blocks and other unstable items cannot be used to prop up the platform. Scaffolds also must have safety gear like guardrails, toeboards and midrails that help to prevent falls and other dangers. In addition, any damaged parts must be repaired or replaced immediately.

Despite the existence of OSHA regulations, far too many construction sites are home to dangerous, poorly constructed scaffolding that violates federal rules and puts workers at risk. Employees injured in a construction accident may consult with a workers' compensation lawyer about how they might pursue compensation for their damages.

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