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Prevention of Worker Deaths on Suspension Scaffolding in New York City

New York City Workers' CompensationAn experienced scaffolding accident attorneys knows workers are always in danger when at elevated heights. Although there are strict rules designed to make sure that scaffolding is safe for employees in the construction field and other industries where high work is required, falls still remain a leading cause of workplace injury or death.

One high-risk type of scaffolding where workers could be badly hurt or killed is suspension scaffolding. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took a close look at some of the incidents where workplace injuries and fatalities happened on suspension scaffolding.

Workers at Risk on Suspension Scaffolding

Suspension scaffolding refers to a work platform that is suspended from an overhead structure, rather than supported by scaffolding components below the work platform. Typically, rope is used to support suspension scaffolding. Unfortunately, defective equipment, improper training of workers, a failure to use personal fall protection equipment, and improper operation are all common causes of injuries and fatalities when suspension scaffolding is used in the workplace.

Falls from scaffolding account for a significant percentage of workplace injuries (the CDC data suggests around 21 percent of fatal falls from work surfaces during one study period). Suspension scaffolding was the type of scaffolding used in about 30 percent of cases where workers fell from scaffolds. Around 68 percent of  falls from suspension scaffolding occurred because of an equipment failure. Workers were using appropriate personal protective gear in only a small number of cases where falls resulted in injuries and fatalities, but in cases where the gear was used it was generally used improperly.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has had regulations to protect workers in scaffolding use as far back as 1971. Some of the different rules and regulations relate to the type of scaffolding components used; inspection requirements for suspension scaffolding; proper approaches to protecting the material holding up the suspension scaffold from corrosive processes; and the use of harness systems or personal fall protection equipment to help prevent worker injuries and deaths if problems do happen with suspension scaffolding.

Despite these regulations, accidents still happen. OSHA recommends employers ensure careful compliance with rules for safe suspension scaffolding. Both design and operation of suspension scaffolds must be conducted in accordance with best practices for safety in order to reduce the dangers. Scaffold manufacturers guidelines and instructions should also be followed carefully and all workers who assemble or use suspension scaffolding should be carefully trained both in the use of personal fall protection equipment and in other steps that they can take to try to reduce the rate of incidents and reduce the severity of falls when a problem does happen.

Suspension scaffolding can be used safely if all recommendations were followed, but there is always a risk. It is up to both employers and employees to do everything possible to minimize the dangers of working at elevated heights on suspension scaffolding.

If you have suffered a disability in New York, contact the Law Offices of Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP today by calling (800) 692-3717 or by visiting


Categories: Workplace Injuries