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4 scaffolding safety hazards NYC construction workers face

Now that more New Yorkers are back to work following the shutdown last spring, more and more construction projects have resumed. Every day, more scaffolding appears as construction workers work on new buildings, renovate old ones and redevelop neighborhoods.

However, working on scaffolding comes with inherent danger. Here are four hazards constructions workers may face when working on scaffolding at a job site:

  1. When workers fall. Construction workers can fall from scaffolding if it doesn’t have proper guardrails or the guardrails aren’t installed properly. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that scaffolding 10 feet and higher have guardrails for worker safety. Some contractors have decided to install guardrails when scaffolding goes above six feet for added safety. Also, some falls are the result of lack of access to the scaffold – whether from a secured ladder, stair tower or ramp.

  1. When falling debris hits construction workers or the scaffolding. In July, one construction worker was killed and three were injured after falling debris hit scaffolding at the construction site they were working at and caused it to collapse. The workers were restoring the façade of a Manhattan apartment building when a section of parapet fell, crashing into the scaffolding.

  1. When the scaffold collapses. If the scaffold is poorly designed, or is holding too much weight, it can collapse. You must account for the number of workers who will be using the scaffold and the weight of materials they will be using when creating the scaffold’s foundation, placing its planks and adding needed wall tie-ins and braces needed for further support.

  1. When construction workers are electrocuted while using scaffolding. When construction workers are using scaffolding, there shouldn’t be any electrical hazards present within 10 feet. If that distance isn’t possible, the electricity in the affected area needs to be off (and double checked that it’s off) before workers should use the scaffolding.

Construction contractors should make sure their employees receive good safety training when working with scaffolding. Workers should know how to prevent falls, use fall safety equipment properly and identify electrical hazards. By giving workers proper training and doing everything to avoid scaffolding hazards, workers can avoid fatal or devastating construction site injuries.

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