Boston Scaffolding

Scaffold Industry News

Boston ScaffoldingThe need for Boston scaffolding inspection and safety has never been more prominent than in recent years. Notably, since the tragic scaffolding accident in 2006, where a 20,000 pound scaffold collapsed in busy downtown Boston, killing two workers and an innocent bystander. This massive accident occurred on Boylston Street after a scaffold that was being taken apart crashed into the street, crushing a car and causing chaos throughout the downtown Boston area. This accident not only took the lives of three people, but also brought awareness to the lack of proper scaffold safety and inspection requirements.

There are no Boston scaffolding laws or regulations in place regarding neither the inspection of scaffolds nor the requirement for building owners and contractors to provide appropriate safety equipment to workers. Although OSHA does inspect scaffolds, these inspections are rare and only occur when an accident has already happened. Therefore, there are no regulated preventative measures enforced to protect workers in the event of injury or death due to a faulty scaffold.

Statistics show that there are 88 scaffold deaths per year in the U.S., and these only account for worker fatalities – not incidental pedestrian injuries and deaths attributed to falling scaffolds. Immigrant workers make up the vast majority of these injuries and fatalities due to scaffolding failures because of their fear of losing their job, deportation and lack of worker’s compensation available. This statistic is disheartening, especially considering these fatalities can be prevented through scaffold safety regulations and improved jobsite training.

The key is to take measures to prevent deaths and injuries attributed to scaffold failure, not react after the accident has occurred. The responsibility lies within contractors and building owners to provide proper safety equipment, high-quality scaffolds and require proper training. States have the capacity to mandate these requirements; New York is currently the only state with a "Scaffold Law" in place that puts absolute liability on building owners and contractors for scaffold accidents, inciting these parties to take preemptive safety measures.

Many may ask why property owners and contractors do not perform scaffolding inspections and insist on safety equipment, training and sound scaffolds unless mandated by state law. Many contractors try to cut corners to reduce costs and increase profits by not expending money on these critical safety precautions and inspections. Likewise, some contractors order their scaffolds overseas from countries like China where the scaffolds are cheaper, and likewise, inferior in quality.

Due to the 2006 Boston scaffolding accident, the contractors, Bostonian Masonry, were required by OSHA to pay up to nearly $120,000 in fines. Maybe other contractors and building owners will take notice and invest upfront in high-quality, secure scaffolds; extensive training for workers; and the proper safety equipment to avoid paying for scaffolding accidents later. Moreover, although the fines are costly, the lives lost due to non-existent safety precautions for scaffolding are invaluable.