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Workplace injuries follow break of inappropriate scaffold plank

Oklahoma workers in the building, roofing and construction industries may be aware of the hazards of their occupations. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration says fall accidents are the leading cause of fatalities in the construction industry. Unfortunately, some employers show complete disregard for the safety of their employees, leading to severe workplace injuries and deaths.

A roofing company in another state, along with the construction company on whose site an accident took place, were recently cited for willful repeat violations. The OSHA inspection followed an incident in which three workers miraculously survived a 2-story fall. The workers fell when the scaffolding plank they were standing on broke. As an indication of the employer's indifference to worker safety, OSHA found that the plank could not carry the weight of the workers. In addition, the purchase invoice for the plank clearly indicated that it was not appropriate for use on a scaffold.

In addition to exceeding the weight limit, other violations included the scaffold exceeding the allowable height, too short ladders and failure to ensure the use of fall protection. Some scaffold components were damaged or defective, and the structures were not appropriately anchored. Furthermore, OSHA determined that workers were not trained in scaffold safety and proper erection of scaffolds.

The injuries suffered by these three workers included fractured ribs, a punctured lung and spinal injuries, along with facial, eye and chest injuries. Such injuries may cause workers to spend long periods away from work while they are recovering. Oklahoma workers who have suffered workplace injuries are entitled to pursue workers' compensation claims. Benefits typically cover medical expenses and a percentage of the injured worker's average wage.

Source:, "Not For Scaffold Use: Three Massachusetts Roofers Hospitalized When Scaffolding Breaks", Sandy Smith, April 9, 2015

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