Two California bills signed into law in September will allow for a post-COVID building boom across the Golden State. The expected wave of new construction, while a boon to developers, could have consequences: More construction site scaffold collapses.
With new statewide zoning laws encouraging development of multi-story buildings, usage of scaffolding is likely to escalate in already densely-populated urban areas like Los Angeles. New multi-family projects could net millions for developers looking to recover from the COVID-19 construction slowdown.
In the rush to raise new, multi-story buildings, though, an industry already notorious for worker safety issues may be tempted to cut corners in the name of profit. If you or a loved one has been injured due to a scaffolding collapse, you may be entitled to compensation, and Conexión Legal’s network of expert construction accident lawyers can help you. Simply call 1-800-201-1220 or write to us through WhatsApp to receive free legal advice. If needed, we can connect you to a member of our network of attorneys who specialize in construction site accidents.
How common are scaffolding-related accidents?
Before the pandemic, an average of 2.3 million construction workers — 65% of the construction industry — worked on scaffolding every year. Not surprisingly, scaffolding-related accidents are some of the industry’s most common, causing an average of 4,500 injuries and over 60 deaths every year, according to Bureau of Labor statistics.
When Gov. Gavin Newsome signed California Senate Bills 9 and 10, he changed state zoning laws, allowing for condominiums and apartment buildings to be built on land previously designated only for a single home. In some areas, that would allow homeowners to build so-called grandma flats on their property, and others to expand a duplex into a quadplex. In areas that need more high-density housing — urban centers like Los Angeles — that means more multi-story buildings, where scaffolding will abut sidewalks and streets.
It is important to remember that scaffolding accidents don’t only victimize construction workers. Because they often border sidewalks and streets, scaffolding collapses can send people and objects onto pedestrians or into traffic. In 2019, a scaffolding on a six-story building collapsed onto a Hollywood sidewalk in strong winds, injuring three. If you have been injured by a collapsing scaffold, or by objects and people falling from scaffolding, you may have a case.
Why do scaffolds collapse?
In a recent BLS study, 72% of workers injured in scaffolding accidents attributed them either to the planking or support giving way, or to the employee slipping or being struck by a falling object.
Scaffolding safety is heavily regulated by California law, which governs materials used, their load-bearing capabilities and design. They are also required to be regularly inspected both before and during use. Unfortunately, those regulations only work if they are followed.
General contractors as well as building owners are required to ensure that there is safety equipment in good condition for workers to use when working on elevated platforms. That includes properly maintained hoists, safe and sturdy ladders and safety harnesses or lanyards. They are also required to train workers on how to properly use scaffolds.
Lack of proper training and safety equipment can lead to falls. Adverse weather, sub-standard materials, defective or damage equipment, inadequate inspection, unsafe inclines, lack of safety harnesses or guardrails and improper assembly can all contribute to scaffolding collapse.
Who is liable in a scaffolding collapse?
When a scaffolding accident occurs, many potential parties can be held liable for damages. General contractors, subcontractors, manufacturers, vendors and the construction company itself can be held liable if it can be proven that their negligence contributed to a scaffold collapse that caused injury or death.
Compensation for injury or death due to a scaffolding collapse at a construction site can include medical bills, ongoing care and physical therapy, pain and suffering, lost wages, loss of future earnings, physical disfigurement and emotional distress.
A construction accident attorney can help determine if there was negligence, who was negligent and if you have a case. With Conexión Legal, you can receive a free consultation to determine how best to proceed by calling 1-800-201-1220 or writing to us through WhatsApp.