Increasing risks faced by scaffolding workers
Scaffolding workers face a number of risks on a daily basis. Working from height can be dangerous, especially if health and safety measures are not adequately followed. If you have been injured while working on scaffolding, you may be able to make a claim for compensation.
The 2015 Safety Report of the National Access & Scaffolding Confederation (NASC) found that scaffolding accidents increased by 9% in one year from 2013 to 2014.
It is an employer's duty of care to ensure that their staff are kept safe from harm. If your employer has failed in this duty of care, and this resulted in an injury, you may be able to make a claim of negligence against them.
The main risks scaffolding workers face are as follows:
Falls from height
The biggest cause of death or serious injury in the construction industry is falls from height. Working from scaffolding adds an extra risk as the structure must be assembled safely first.
The 2015 safety report found that there were 24 falls from height in 2014, with the highest reported fall being from six metres. Nine falls were reported from scaffolds or working platforms, and seven falls were from ladders.
If scaffolding is not constructed soundly, there is a risk all or part of it could collapse while people are working on it. It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that scaffolding is erected safely and to check that there are no defective parts such as broken boards. This health and safety measure can help to avoid accidents at work.
Inadequate safety equipment
As with all construction jobs, scaffolding workers are required to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) under the PPE at Work Regulations 1992. The employer is responsible for issuing adequate protective equipment to each employee, and for ensuring that it is worn while on site at all times.
If employees are issued with inadequate protective equipment they are at increased risk of injury while working. Employers must also ensure that scaffolding specific safety equipment such as safety hatches, hand rails and safety nets are in place where required.
Outdoor workers are put at increased risk during bad weather such as high winds and heavy rain. Surfaces can become slippery and scaffolding structures less secure in such weather conditions. Employers should postpone scaffolding work in such conditions until the weather improves.
Employers should ensure that every employee has been given sufficient health and safety training to complete their job without risk of injury. Scaffolding workers often carry heavy loads and work with potentially dangerous machinery at a height. Therefore they should be trained on the correct way of using equipment and carrying heavy items. If an employer has failed to provide adequate training, this is a health and safety breach.
Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher
About the author
Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.