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Safety measures can prevent injuries, death from falls at work

A suspension scaffold refers to one or multiple platforms that are secured from an overhead structure, and safety administrations have precautions in place due to the risk of falling workers face when using scaffolding equipment. This is intended to protect workers in North Carolina and other states because injuries or fatal accidents could occur if scaffolding is misused or defective or if there are inadequate protection systems in place.

Falls caused many traumatic occupational deaths in the 1970s and 1980s. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that falls from scaffolding may take place because of defective equipment, failure to use fall protection equipment appropriately or improper installation, operation or training. When fatal falls occur while a worker is violating Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations, observing safety rules usually could have prevented the death.

Several safety precautions can prevent falls or injuries when working with scaffolding. According to the NIOSH, anyone using a suspension scaffold should have proper training, all scaffolds and protection equipment should be inspected before every use, scaffolds should meet OSHA design and construction requirements and manufacturer's instructions should be followed when assembling and using scaffolds. Additionally, suspension harness systems or ropes should be protected from sharp edges, corrosive materials and heat. These safety measures and others can be implemented by following OSHA regulations.

While some workplace accidents can be prevented, workers are usually still entitled to benefits even if an accident was the injured party's fault. Workers' compensation can help an employee with medical expenses and lost wages on a temporary or permanent basis, and loved ones can also receive benefits if an employee dies in an on-the-job accident. Employees have the right to consult an attorney to ensure their best interests are met.

Source: CDC, "Preventing Worker Injuries and Deaths Caused by Falls From Suspension Scaffolds", October 21, 2014

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