The use of temporary scaffolds is essential in both commercial and residential construction and remodeling. However, due to their temporary nature, scaffolds are also involved in a large number of on the job injuries in the construction industry. Sadly, many of these injuries could have been prevented if more attention had been devoted to scaffolding safety issues.
In this post the scaffolding accident lawyer at The Doan Law Firm will use a recent scaffolding accident death in New Hampshire to illustrate some of the situations that workplace safety agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) routinely encounter during routine onsite inspections and in accident investigations.
Thirty-three-year-old Derek Goldsmith, an employee of Jancewicz & Sons Roofing of Bellows Falls, Vermont, died on September 22 nd of this year after falling from scaffolding at a residential job site in Hanover, NH.
According to a story published in the Eagle Times of Claremont, NH, there were unconfirmed reports that several employees of Jancewicz and Sons Roofing had told investigators that the scaffolding from which Goldsmith fell had been improperly erected.
The same story also noted that the parent company of Jancewicz & Sons Roofing, Home Improvement Company of Vermont, had been cited by the Vermont office of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration just days prior to the Hanover accident regarding an inspection of a work site in Woodstock, Vt. on April 10, 2018.
Apparently quoting from the “Citation and Notification of Penalty” issued to Jancewicz & Sons Roofing / Home Improvement Company of Vermont, the Eagle Times reported that the OSHA inspector observed several “serious” violations of OSHA regulations, such as:
OSHA recommends that scaffolding should only be assembled by an experienced work crew and under that the erection should be under the supervision of an individual with several years of experience in scaffolding work and, preferably, training in scaffolding safety issues.
Scaffolding must be erected on a firm surface that is not affected by rain, snow, or changes in temperature.
If a guardrail is not present, an employee is at risk of falling while changing position on a scaffold.
Scaffolding should never be erected close to a live electric power cable, much less around such a “hot” line due to the danger of fire and/or accidental electrocution or workers. If it is impossible to avoid electrical lines, the power feeding such lines must be interrupted before scaffolding is erected, in use, or being taken down.
Both ladders and scaffolds are potentially unstable, particularly when ladders use scaffolding as a base. For that reason, OSHA takes a very critical view of using ladders and scaffolding together, even if only for a short time to accomplish a specific task.
It must be noted that simply because Jancewicz & Sons Roofing / Home Improvement Company of Vermont had been cited for safety violations immediately prior to Goldsmith’s death, it does not imply that he died as a result of an unsafe work environment. Such a conclusion can only be arrived at following a comprehensive review of the facts related to this accident by the appropriate investigation agencies.
We will continue to monitor future developments in this case and will pass them along as they become available. In the meantime, we invite those wanting to learn more about scaffolding accidents to speak with a scaffold accident attorney with The Doan Law Firm.
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