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Legal Blog

Scaffolding Collapse

Texas’s booming construction industry bears one of the highest risks for work-related accidents. Construction workers often handle poorly maintained equipment and perform physically demanding tasks. One of the leading causes of injury is unsafe or defective scaffolding at construction sites. 

The Krist Law Firm has years of experience representing workers hurt due to weak scaffolding and other safety violations. Our scaffolding collapse attorneys are here to recover the compensation you deserve.

What is a Scaffolding Collapse Accident?

When construction needs to be done to the inside or outside of a building, scaffolds are erected to help work crews reach higher ceilings, rooftops, and higher stories. The idea is to create a stable platform that is secured to the structure so workers can perform their tasks more efficiently. 

Smaller scaffolds can be erected to paint ceilings and repair crown molding. Larger platforms can be built several stories high to reach skyscrapers and towers. 

When scaffolds are improperly designed, erected with subpar materials, or overloaded, they can collapse. Workers suffer serious and life-threatening fall injuries.

What Workplace Safety Violations Can Lead to a Scaffolding Collapse? 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) maintains specific safety regulations for scaffolding use, with requirements such as:

  • Unstable objects, e.g., barrels, boxes, loose bricks, or concrete blocks, cannot be used to support scaffolds 
  • Scaffolds and their components must be capable of supporting at least four times the maximum intended load 
  • Any scaffold that is damaged or weakened must be immediately repaired and cannot be used until repairs are completed 
  • All planking or platforms must be overlapped at least 12 inches or secured from movement 

In addition, workers must be provided with a ladder or other safe access to the scaffolding. Employees are prohibited from working on scaffolds during inclement weather conditions or high winds. Also, any ice, snow, or debris should be cleaned from platforms before workers can stand on them safely.

What Can Cause a Scaffolding Collapse Accident?

Scaffolding collapse accidents can happen for a variety of reasons, including those listed below. 

Defective Design

Scaffolding collapses can result from issues with the structure itself. For example, the scaffold’s design could be inherently defective and unable to bear the weight it was constructed to hold. 

The scaffold may be built with faulty parts. If the piping or planks were defectively manufactured, they can be properly erected but collapse due to subpar materials.

If a design or manufacturing defect is at fault for the scaffolding collapse, the manufacturers of the faulty parts may be held liable in a third-party claim.

Subpar Planking

Strong planking is critical for worker safety. Whether the scaffolding is built to reach a ceiling or a building several stories high, the planking must be sturdy enough to support the weight of the workers and the tools and materials they need.

If the planking is weak, the construction crew can be vulnerable to severe and fatal fall injuries after a collapse. The frames, posts, and other scaffolding mechanisms also must be strong enough to support the weight of the workers and the items they are using to do their jobs.

Improper Scaffolding Maintenance 

Just like the equipment and machinery used at the construction site, scaffolding must be properly maintained. Over time, the structural integrity of the scaffold can begin to be compromised. The planks, frames, nails, and more can weaken. Without proper maintenance, scaffolding can become vulnerable to a collapse. If the structure is particularly old, it may be necessary to replace the old scaffolding completely.

Inexperienced or Negligent Crew Members 

A construction site is inherently dangerous. If the majority of workers are inexperienced, the likelihood of a workplace accident increases. In addition, crew members need to be diligent about following safety rules and regulations.

Working on scaffolding is risky. The bulk of a construction crew should have scaffolding experience. Even a small mistake can have devastating consequences. 

If a crew member does not take safety protocols seriously, they can easily compromise the scaffold through acts of negligence, including:

  • Overloading the scaffold
  • Jumping or horseplaying on the structure
  • Leaving tools and equipment in the walkway
  • Allowing the surface of the scaffold to become slick with oil or grease

Workers should remain professional at all times and follow proper safety guidelines to ensure the safety of the crew.

Failure to Construct the Scaffolding Properly 

If the scaffolding is improperly constructed, it is likely to collapse. When the scaffolding parts are not defective, it may be that the structure was not built to code.

Some examples of improper scaffolding construction include:

  • The failure to secure the points after attachment
  • Missing or improperly installed guardrails
  • The failure to install needed bracing to support the structure

Proper supervision can prevent a poorly constructed scaffold. 

Untrained Construction Workers

The strength of the construction crew depends on their collective knowledge and experience. If the majority of workers lack the proper training, they can make devastating mistakes.

Crew members must receive specific training before working on or around scaffolding. Those who build and erect scaffolding must be trained on the appropriate building methods and safety standards. 

In addition, crew members who will be working on the scaffolding need proper training. They must be made aware of the risks involved. According to OSHA, the lack of fall protection training in construction is one of the top 10 most frequently cited safety violations.

When construction crews fail to uphold OSHA standards for using and maintaining scaffolds, workers often suffer dangerous consequences.

How Frequently Are Workers Hurt in Texas?

When research studies consider the most dangerous states for work, Texas usually ranks high. The national occupational fatality rate is only 3.4 compared to our state’s 3.9 fatality rating. The construction industry is especially affected by workplace accidents.

According to a Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries report, in the last reporting year:

  • Nearly 500 people were killed in workplace accidents
  • The construction industry carried the highest number of work-related deaths
  • 27 percent of all fatalities in Texas can be attributed to the construction industry
  • 43 percent of fatal falls occur in the construction industry

Scaffolding accidents lead to serious fall injuries. Workers can plummet to their deaths from several stories up or suffer catastrophic bodily damage.

What Injuries Are Associated with Scaffolding Collapse Accidents? 

The injuries associated with scaffolding collapse accidents are mostly related to falls, including:

  • Broken, fractured, and dislocated bones
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Crush injuries and crush syndrome
  • Internal organ damage
  • Electrocution 

Many construction crews work around electrical wiring and power lines. If a scaffold collapses into a power line or gets tangled in unprotected wiring, workers can sustain serious and even deadly electrocution injuries on the job. 

Can I Bring a Third-Party Claim for My Scaffolding Collapse Injuries? 

A third-party claim is a type of personal injury claim based on negligence. If your scaffolding collapse injuries were caused by a negligent third party, you may have the right to sue them for your damages. 

Potentially liable parties in a scaffolding collapse accident include:

  • Engineers
  • Subcontractors
  • Architects
  • Product manufacturers 
  • Property owners
  • General contractors

To determine if your case qualifies for a third-party claim, speak to an experienced scaffolding collapse attorney. They can investigate your situation and uncover all liable parties. 

Why Do I Need a Scaffolding Collapse Lawyer? 

Scaffolding collapse accident victims deserve compensation; however, recovering the funds they deserve is challenging. For example, if multiple parties share responsibility for the accident, they may try to pass the blame. Insurance companies may also continuously deny an injury case, stating that it should be paid by another party.

A scaffolding collapse attorney by your side will fight for fair compensation from each responsible party. Your lawyer will negotiate on your behalf and work tirelessly to protect your legal rights and interests.

How A Scaffolding Collapse Attorney Can Help Your Case

If you or a loved one recently suffered a work-related injury, you may be entitled to compensation. A scaffolding collapse can result in serious or catastrophic injuries. Hurt workers can suffer permanent disabilities and limitations.

The experienced Houston workplace injury attorneys at The Krist Law Firm can evaluate your case to determine your best legal options. We have a long history of successfully recovering fair settlements and achieving record-setting and award-winning trial verdicts for our clients. Contact our scaffolding collapse lawyers today to discuss the details of your case.