Scaffolding is essential to construction projects that require a temporary workspace in aboveground areas of the structure. Because scaffolds are elevated, fall risks are inherent.
In the event of a scaffolding-related accident, insurance protection is paramount to your client's business. Insurance coverage ensures that your client is covered against costly damages.
Here are some of the risks that scaffolding insurance can cover.
Slips and Falls
Workers on scaffolds are at risk of falling if proper safety practices are not enforced. According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics' Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), in 2020 there were 52 fatal falls to lower levels from scaffolding.1
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that all scaffolds be equipped with fall protection. Any scaffold that is 10 feet above the ground or higher should have a fall arrest system, guardrails, or proper safety straps for all workers on the platform.
Planks form the scaffold platform upon which workers walk on the scaffold. If planks are unstable, not secured, or too small, they exacerbate the fall risk. Bad planking is often due to poor scaffold design techniques, use of the wrong materials, or poor maintenance of the scaffold over time.
Prevent scaffolding hazards related to bad planking requires using the right materials and design. For example, the right grade of lumber needs to be used to support the load.
Scaffolds support tools and building materials, as well as workers. Tools and materials falling from scaffolds present a risk to anyone below the scaffold. Toeboards, screens, debris nets, catch platforms, and canopies can prevent injuries from falling debris.2
To prevent electrocution of workers setting up, working on, or dismantling scaffolds near power lines, OSHA has established guidelines for the minimum distance between the scaffold and power lines, based on the voltage of the lines.2
Poor Scaffold Preparation
Poor scaffold assembly is a common scaffolding risk because many components go into the final structure. If the assembly is rushed, important safety steps could be overlooked. OSHA provides comprehensive guidelines about scaffold assembly and materials to be used in different types of scaffolds.2
Poor Personnel Training
To reducing scaffolding injuries, ensure that all personnel on the site are adequately trained on OSHA regulations, including everyone who assembles and disassembles scaffolding, who works on a scaffold and who works near the scaffold.
In addition to following proper safety practices, construction companies should have adequate insurance to for scaffolding risks to reduce out-of-pocket costs related to scaffold accidents.
In a specialty market such as this one, having an insurance underwriter is a necessity. A specialty underwriter can analyze the unique risks that you face and provide a clear financial assessment that meets your business framework. Working with an underwriter also puts you in a position to enjoy coverage in multiple scenarios that you may not have considered.
RPS Signature Programs has more than 30 years of nationwide experience in serving this specialty market. We understand the risks and how to protect your business. Our experts in scaffolding insurance coverage consider multiple factors to provide an assessment that works for you.
1"Scaffolding,"Occupational Safety and Health Administration, accessed 9 Dec 2022.
2"A Guide to Scaffold Use in the Construction Industry,"Occupational Safety and Health Administration, revised 2022. PDF file.