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Scaffolding: a construction necessity, workplace safety risk

Skyscrapers are incredible feats of engineering. They stretch tens of stories high with the perfect balance of strength and flexibility required to withstand strong winds and support the massive weight of the structure itself as well as everything inside.

These impressive edifices require a significant amount of time, money and effort to build. Architects and engineers spend years developing plans before ever breaking ground. Construction workers must then step in to make these modern marvels come to life, but this job is not without serious risks. It is why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration spends significant time creating, investigating and enforcing regulations for the construction industry.

Scaffolding works as the foundation for these types of construction projects, and it poses one of the greatest threats to workplace safety. 

On Monday, March 23, 2015, three construction workers were killed and another was seriously injured when scaffolding collapsed at the construction site for a high-rise building in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The crew was taking the scaffolding down at the time of the accident. Three of the workers fell from the scaffolding when it collapsed and did not survive. The steel beams crushed another worker on the ground when it fell, injuring him severely.

The North Carolina Department of Labor and other agencies are investigating the workplace accident. These investigations have raised some issues of note for construction workers who use scaffolding here in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and the surrounding areas, which we will discuss in our continuing posts on the subject.

Source: USA Today, “Three die in North Carolina scaffolding collapse,” John Bacon, March 23, 2015

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