death and injuries on scaffolds

On many construction sites, scaffolds are a common sight. These temporary structures are essential for a number of jobs to be completed safely. However, in some cases, the use (or misuse) of scaffolding poses a high risk of injury or death.

Over the past few years, Utah has seen a number of scaffold incidents that have resulted in injuries or fatalities:

  • North Logan, Utah: A construction worker severely injured both legs after falling some 30 feet from a scaffold
  • Millcreek, Utah: A construction worker fell 6 stories from a scaffold and was transported to the hospital in critical condition
  • Park City, Utah: A construction worker fell 40 feet from a scaffold and suffered fatal injuries

Some workers are injured in scaffold incidents that were caused by someone else’s negligence. When you find yourself among these victims, a free consultation with the construction injury lawyers at Siegfried & Jensen can inform you of your legal options. Call us today at 801-845-9000 for a free case evaluation with our team. 

4 Common Causes of Scaffold Incidents Causing Injury or Death

Injuries often seen after a scaffold incident include:

While each case is different, accident reports show that many scaffold injuries and deaths are caused by one of 4 major dangers: scaffold failure, being struck by an object, electrocution, and slipping or falling – discussed as follows.

1.Scaffold failure

An unsecured or improperly installed scaffold poses a danger to workers. Such risks include the platform or decking failing and the scaffold structure either falling or collapsing.

For example, in one Utah incident, an employee stepped on an unsecured board on the scaffold and fell. He suffered a fractured rib and sprained wrist.

2.Struck by object

Another cause of scaffolding incidents is when an object strikes a worker. Safety regulations require a worker to wear a hard hat while on a scaffold. Still, injuries or fatalities can occur when a worker is struck from above while working.

One fatal incident in Texas occurred when an employee was struck by a vessel lid while changing a filter. The force of the vessel lid knocked him off the scaffold, and he suffered fatal blunt force trauma and fall injuries.

3.Electrocution and electric shock

Electrocution is another danger when working on a scaffold near sources of electricity, such as power lines or generators. This is especially true in windy situations, which can cause the scaffolding to unintentionally come in contact with an electrical current.

In a Wisconsin incident, 2 workers were erecting a scaffold pole support near a power line on a day with outdoor winds exceeding 17 miles per hour. When the pole made contact with the line, one of the employees was electrocuted, and the other was hospitalized for electric shock injuries.

4.Slipping or falling

The most common cause of death and injuries on scaffolds is a fall event. Despite some common misconceptions, fatalities can occur from falls less than 10 feet. For example, an electrician was killed after falling approximately 4 feet onto a concrete surface.

Injuries or deaths after falling from a scaffold may occur when a person does not wear or correctly use fall arrest equipment. In one Utah incident, an employee suffered fatal injuries after falling 54 feet from a scaffold. Despite wearing a full-body harness, the worker removed his lanyards from an anchor point and was unprotected when he fell.

Scaffolding Safety and Standards

OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has put a number of safety standards in place for the use of scaffolding. When followed by both employers and employees, they help increase safety in the workplace. Unfortunately, these safety standards may not be followed due to ignorance, complacency, or negligence.

OSHA’s Guide to Scaffold Use in the Construction Industry outlines a number of scaffold safety standards, including inspections, fall equipment, decking, and training.


According to OSHA standards, a competent person must inspect the scaffold and its components before each work shift and after any occurrence that could affect the structural integrity.

OSHA defines a competent person as someone “who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions, which are unsanitary, hazardous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.”

Fall equipment

OSHA requires guardrails or a fall arrest system to be used by any employee who is working at 6 feet or more above a lower level. On single-point and two-point adjustable suspended scaffolds, both guardrails and fall arrest systems must be used.

Additional OSHA requirements include:

  • Fall arrest systems must be attached by lanyard to a vertical lifeline, horizontal lifeline, or scaffold structural member
  • Vertical lifelines must be fastened to a fixed safe point of anchorage, independent of the scaffold, and protected from sharp edges and abrasion
  • Safe points of anchorage do not include standpipes, vents, other piping systems, electrical conduit, outrigger beans, or counterweights
  • Horizontal lifelines must be secured to 2 or more structural members of the scaffold, or else they may be looped around both suspension and independent suspension lines above the hoist and brake attached to the end of the scaffold


There are a number of safety regulations for the decking or planking of scaffolding platforms.

OSHA requires that:

  • Each platform on all working levels of scaffolds must be fully planked or decked
  • Scaffolds and scaffold components must support at least 4 times the maximum intended load (suspension scaffold rigging must support at least 6 times the intended load)
  • Supported scaffold platforms must be fully planked or decked
  • Solid sawn wood, fabricated planks, and fabricated platforms may be used as scaffold planks following the recommendations by the manufacturer or a lumber grading association or inspection agency
  • Each platform unit must be installed so that the space between adjacent units and the platform and uprights is no more than 1 inch wide, except where the employer can demonstrate that a wider space is necessary


Injuries and death can result from a lack of sufficient training.

OSHA training standards require the following:

  • All employees must be trained by a qualified person to recognize the hazards associated with the type of scaffold being used and how to control or minimize those hazards
  • Training must include fall hazards, falling object hazards, electrical hazards, proper use of the scaffold, and handling of materials
  • A competent person must train all employees who erect, disassemble, move, operate, repair, maintain, or inspect scaffolds
  • Training must cover the nature of the hazards, the correct procedures for erecting, disassembling, moving, operating, repairing, inspecting, and maintaining the type of scaffold in use

Call Siegfried & Jensen After a Workplace Incident

If you or a loved one has been injured in a scaffolding incident at work, the team at Siegfried & Jensen can help. We have been assisting injured people in Utah and surrounding states since 1990 and have recovered over $1.2 billion in total for our clients over the years. In Utah, we are available in Salt Lake CityOgdenOremSt. GeorgeLayton, and Logan, with upcoming offices in Saratoga SpringsPayson, and West Valley. In Washington, you can find us in Spokane and in Spokane Valley soon. And finally, in Idaho, you can find us in Boise and soon in Meridian.

Our lawyers can help you make an informed decision about your legal options, guide you through the claim and lawsuit process, and fiercely represent the interests of you and your family. We are dedicated to offering our clients personalized, quality representation.

Call us to schedule your free case evaluation today at 801-845-9000. Our representatives are available 24/7 at your convenience.

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Content checked by personal injury attorney Todd Bradford. I worked for a small law firm in Utah County, where I handled various types of cases. My main focus was personal injury and I decided that is what I enjoyed doing the most. I rejoined Siegfried and Jensen in 2012 where my focus is solely on helping personal injury clients. I take pride in helping personal injury clients and enjoy serving them. If you need an attorney for auto accidents or injuries of any kind in Salt Lake City, UT, Ogden, UT, Spokane, WA, or Boise, ID, contact us.