Scaffolding accidents typically result in extensive damage and severe injuries. And in the minutes and days immediately following such an incident, parties have several pressing issues to address, from problems arising from project delays to obtaining medical attention for any related injuries.
When these situations arise, people often make the mistake of drawing conclusions about what caused the accident and how it occurred before conducting an investigation. One common assumption is that defective scaffolding may be to blame. But there are many other potential causes for scaffolding incidents.
What Went Wrong
Scaffolding accidents can arise from a wide variety of causes. When workers fall or scaffolding fails, the reason for the accident could be:
- Improper use of restraints
- Improper footwear
- Failure to wear protective gear
- Extreme weather
- Trespassing in restricted areas
These acts of negligence or just bad luck can result in a fall from scaffolding structures that are otherwise safe and secure.
Determining the Cause of an Accident
When someone falls or gets crushed by collapsed scaffolding equipment, it may be tempting to blame the misfortune on a faulty structure. However, a thorough investigation is critical for pinpointing the cause before any party assumes liability or files a formal claim.
An investigation will often involve:
- Questioning witnesses
- Discussing the incident with the victim
- Examining the accident site
- Checking fall protective measures and gear
- Assessing safety training programs and policies for workers
- Collecting forensic evidence
Investigations take time, and to conduct them correctly, practitioners must have a comprehensive understanding of scaffolding requirements as well as the scientific and engineering concepts relating to the structure and the accident.
In any accident on a construction site, multiple parties can play a role in safety so there is no use in jumping to conclusions about who may be at fault. PRPs can include those who are actually on-site, including workers; as well as professionals who never physically set foot near the project, such as engineers and manufacturers.
Thus, when it comes to determining the cause of a serious scaffolding accident, it is crucial to conduct an investigation as soon after the incident as possible and collect relevant facts to determine which party is liable.