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July 29th, 2013

Scaffold Collapse Accident Prevention – The Importance of Proper Bracing

Frame or fabricated scaffolds are one of the most common types of scaffolds used in both residential and commercial construction. They are economical and relatively easy to use because they can be stacked multiple stories. Workers of all trades, including painters, masonry workers, carpenters, etc., use frame scaffolds on a regular basis. The reality is that scaffolds are very dangerous. Head injuries and spine injuries are very common in scaffold fall accidents. Even a fall of 6 feet can cause serious, career-ending injuries.

For example, a painter or general carpenter may get to a worksite and begin working on a scaffold. Due to negligence of the scaffold company, the scaffold collapses, causing the worker to fall and hit their head on a concrete slab below. Severe brain injuries prevent the worker from ever returning to work. This example is extreme, but these kinds of accidents and injuries happen. In fact, according to OSHA, roughly 4500 injuries and 50 fatalities occur each year in scaffold accidents. The harsh truth is that scaffold accidents are largely preventable.

Improper Bracing Leads to Scaffold Collapse Accidents

Negligence in scaffold erection and failure to provide fall protection are two of the top reasons why scaffold accidents occur. One of the critical components in erection of a frame scaffold is proper bracing. Many scaffolds collapse as a result of negligence in bracing the scaffold.

OSHA regulations apply to all types of scaffolds. Section 1926.452 details specific requirements for scaffold bracing, platforms, etc. Subsection (c) details the bracing requirements for fabricated or frame scaffolds. Section 1926.452(c)(2) often comes into play in a frame scaffold collapse accident due to improper bracing. That section provides:

Frames and panels shall be braced by cross, horizontal, or diagonal braces, or combination thereof, which secure vertical members together laterally. The cross braces shall be of such length as will automatically square and align vertical members so that the erected scaffold is always plumb, level, and square. All brace connections shall be secured.

One of the common mistakes made when bracing a frame scaffold is failing to secure the cross braces. In many scaffold collapse situations, braces were not secured properly to the vertical frames/panels. Ties, pins, brackets, etc. must be secured properly at all times.

Suggested Reading: PA & NJ Workplace Scaffolds & Fall Protection

Other OSHA regulations which may be at issue in a frame scaffold accident case include:

1926.452(c)(3) Frames and panels shall be joined together vertically by coupling or stacking pins or equivalent means.

1926.452(c)(4) Where uplift can occur which would displace scaffold end frames or panels, the frames or panels shall be locked together vertically by pins or equivalent means.

In many scaffold accident cases, workers may have valid legal claims against contractors, the scaffold company, etc. It is important to have any work/construction accident case evaluated by an attorney with knowledge and experience handling construction accident cases.

Related PA & NJ Scaffold Accident Legal Articles:

Scaffold Fall & Construction Site Accident Lawyers

If you’d like to discuss your scaffold fall accident case with one of our New Jersey and Pennsylvania scaffold fall and construction accident lawyers, call Click To Call for your NO OBLIGATION consultation now.

About Pennsylvania and New Jersey Work Accident Lawyer, Jeff Laffey

Jeff Laffey is passionate about workers’ rights and accident safety. Jeff’s law firm proudly represents union and nonunion workers, such as:

  • carpenters,
  • plumbers,
  • electricians,
  • steel workers,
  • iron workers, and
  • laborers.