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Fatal scaffolding accident shows problems

People in Tennessee may be interested to learn about a fatal scaffolding collapse that occurred in Raleigh, N.C. The accident caused several workers to plummet to the ground. In total, three workers died, and one was seriously injured. All four men were Hispanic.

As the construction industry has rebounded, an increasing number of companies is working on the construction of high-rise apartments and other tall building projects. They are also employing more and more Hispanic workers, some of whom may not fully understand safety and training protocols due to language and immigration issues.

Following this accident, The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has opened an investigation. The agency’s investigation process could take months. One issue is that the type of equipment used in the accident, mast climbing equipment, is not covered by OSHA’s regulations. It is a relatively new system in which workers are not tethered to the buildings on which they work. There are no specifications written that govern the use of mast climbers. OSHA’s investigation will review whether the workers had received proper training, whether they had been provided safety equipment as well as what caused the scaffolding collapse.

Construction worksites can be especially dangerous for workers, and construction accidents are far too common. Employers should provide all safety training needed to their employees. If there is a language barrier, the training should be provided in the worker’s language. Workers should also be provided with safety equipment, and they should always use it while they are working. While it is best to prevent accidents from occurring in the first place, when a worker is injured on the job, they may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. This type of insurance must be carried by all employers in order to provide some protection for their workers. Injured workers might want to seek the help of a workers’ compensation attorney.

Source: The News & Observer, “Scaffolding collapse points up risks, lack of OSHA rules,” Martha Quillin, March 29, 2015

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