Contractor Dies After Falling From Unsecured Scaffolding

    Construction Site Management Expert

    This case involves a contractor from Oklahoma who was working on an exterior painting project for a building within a large business complex. While she was on top of the scaffolding, the scaffolding moved away from the building and she fell to the ground, dying on impact. It was alleged that a safety engineer inspected the scaffolding the hour before the contractor began working. An expert in construction site management was sought to speak to contractor safety while using scaffolding.

    Question(s) For Expert Witness

    • 1. Please describe your experience in managing construction sites with scaffolding.
    • 2. What protocols are in place to ensure contractors aren't using unsafe scaffolding?
    • 3. What preventative measures could have helped avoid this outcome?

    Expert Witness Response E-078222

    I have been an occupational health and safety engineer since 1997. My first position was with a scaffolding supplier in the south. I later became the regional manager for the Caribbean region of a prominent health and safety organization and helped write their policies, which are still in place to this day. Since then I have worked for numerous companies that either build or work on scaffolding.

    OSHA requires all scaffolds be inspected by a “competent” person prior to each work shift. They also require any user to be trained to work from and inspect the scaffold. From the sounds of it, this wasn’t done. OSHA also requires any scaffold that is built 4X taller than it is wide, to be secured to a structure. Depending on how tall or wide the scaffold in question is, that may be an issue. If the scaffold was built properly, inspected properly, and the employee was trained properly, the incident should not have happened. I have done countless inspections/audits on construction sites that had similar issues, and I had them corrected before an injury could occur.

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