Common Scaffolding Accidents and How to Avoid Them

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), scaffolding accidents account for more than 50 deaths and thousands of injuries per year. The most common types of scaffolding accidents include:

  • Planking or support structure collapse
  • Slipping on a wet or slick surface
  • Getting hit by an unsecured object that falls to the ground
  • Electrocution

Prevention is Key

Employer compliance with OSHA standards could prevent most scaffolding accidents. For example:


  • Use guard rails and fall arrest systems.

Scaffold collapse or planking failure

  • Don’t overload the structure with people or equipment
  • Inspect the scaffold frequently to ensure proper construction and stability, particularly at the beginning of a shift and after changes to the scaffolding are made.

Falling objects

  • Use temporary barriers to keep workers from walking under a scaffold.
  • Use screens on the scaffold to keep tools and equipment from sliding off.
  • Use a net system under the scaffold to catch objects that might fall.


  • Keep the scaffolding a minimum assured distance from power lines.
  • If workers must be on a scaffold near power lines, the power to those lines should be turned off, or a cover installed to keep workers from coming in contact with live lines.

Worker Training and Awareness

Employers must also properly train employees who will be working on or around scaffolding. In particular:

  • Use and maintenance of lifelines and fall arrest systems, such as knowing what is and what is not a stable anchor point.
  • If a scaffolding surface is slick from water or other slippery substance, no one should walk on it until the water or spill is cleaned up.
  • Depending on what kind of scaffolding, lift, or suspension apparatus is being used, more than one type of fall prevention system may be needed. For example, a single-point scaffold requires a guard rail and a lifeline.

If you’ve been hurt on the job in a scaffolding accident, our knowledge could be your lifeline. Contact us today.