Scaffolding was first used in ancient times by antique civilisations like the Greeks and Egyptians; it was made of wood and secured with rope knots. It’s not hard to imagine how many people suffered severe or fatal accidents working on those rudimentary structures.
Nowadays, the National Access and Scaffolding Confederation (NASC) dictates strict safety requirements to provide a secure platform for work crews to carry out their labour at height. According to the NASC 2020 Safety Report, the number of scaffolding accidents in the UK reached an all-time low in 2019, with only 74 injuries.
Despite the encouraging statistics, accidents do happen, and sometimes they have severe consequences. If you or a loved one suffered a scaffold injury due to poor health and safety measures, you might be entitled to claim compensation.
A scaffolding accident claim is not limited to employees working on these structures. Pedestrians or site visitors can also be injured if scaffolds are not properly maintained. Although fatalities are rare, lacerations, leg and back injuries, and broken bones are typical after a fall from scaffolding.
If you have sustained a scaffolding injury through no fault of your own, you deserve compensation for all the pain, suffering and financial losses you incurred.
Can I make a scaffolding accident claim?
It should be possible for you to make a scaffolding accident claim provided that:
- you were injured in the last three years
- someone who owed you a duty of care is responsible for your injury
In some situations, you might still be able to claim even if you don’t fulfil the above requirements. A brief conversation with a solicitor can sort it out for you, with no further obligation.
You could make a scaffolding accident claim as an employee who was injured at the workplace, but also as a pedestrian, bystander, visitor or resident. Passers-by might get wounded by falling objects or other hazards and are entitled to claim compensation from the liable party.
To have a successful claim, you need evidence to validate the extent of the injuries you suffered and any related financial losses. If you suffer a scaffold injury, make sure to get appropriate medical assistance and gather as much proof as you can at the site of the accident.
An experienced solicitor can figure out if you have a valid claim based on the specifics of your unique situation. For more information, call free on 0800 678 1410, or enter your contact details to receive a call back.
What are the leading causes of scaffolding accidents?
Scaffolding is a temporary structure used to uplift workers and provide materials during construction or renovation. It means to ensure the safety of the workers and provide easy access to all the parts of the building.
If the scaffold is not used correctly and within the legal requirements, accidents could happen. The most common types of scaffolding accidents include:
Slips, trips and falls
Slips, trips, and falls on the same level account for the majority of scaffolding accidents, causing 21% of all injuries reported in 2019.
The risk of a slip and fall increases with the presence of factors like:
- Poor weather conditions. You should not be forced to work on a scaffold if there’s rain, snow, heavy winds (above 40 mph) or extreme temperatures.
- Uneven or poorly laid flooring
- Work equipment, construction materials or debris left in walkways
A slip or trip can also cause you to fall from scaffolding.
Falls from a height
Falls from scaffolding reduced by half from 2018 to 2019, but injuries due to falling materials have almost doubled. Employers should always avoid using a scaffold if the task can be done from the ground using the proper equipment.
When a scaffold is necessary, the Work at Height Regulations 2005 requires employers to take appropriate measures to guarantee employee safety. They need to ensure the work is accurately planned and supervised. The workers should always have proper protective equipment and training.
Furthermore, employers should take sufficient steps to prevent anybody from being struck by any falling materials or objects and always verify they are accurately stored.
The collapse of a scaffold can have disastrous consequences for those working on or around the structure and for any members of the public that are nearby. Such an accident could be caused by:
- the incorrect assembly of the scaffold
- scaffold structures being overloaded
- the use of damaged or inappropriate materials
Improper training and equipment
The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) require that all equipment is suitable for the intended use, maintained in a safe condition and regularly inspected. Moreover, it should only be handled by people who have the appropriate training and instructions.
For any labour at height, employers should only use workers that have the necessary competence and training. Furthermore, they need to provide proper personal protective equipment (PPE) such as helmets and harnesses.
What are the most common injuries sustained in scaffolding accidents?
The type and severity of a scaffolding accident injury depend on what caused it in the first place. If you slip and trip on the same level, the chances to get seriously hurt are significantly lower than if you fall from scaffolding.
The most commonly reported injuries are:
- leg fractures, which can be a result of falling from a height or of falling objects crushing the limbs
- thoracic injuries, of which the most common are rib fractures
- hip fractures
- wrist and ankle fractures
- skin and soft tissue injuries, including cuts and bruises, pulled muscles and torn ligaments
- spinal fractures
- internal and external lacerations, often as a result of objects falling from a height
Less common and at the same time more severe injuries include neck, head and brain injuries. These can be caused by falls or getting hit by a falling object and can have severe, even life-threatening consequences.
To avoid or at least minimise the risk of injuries, always wear protective equipment while working on or around a scaffold and follow the safety regulations dictated by the competent regulatory authorities.
What are the regulations regarding scaffolding?
If you are considering making a scaffolding accident claim, you will need to prove that another party’s negligence caused you to suffer an injury. Many different bodies and legislations regulate the health and safety standards regarding scaffolding, including:
- The Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
- The National Access and Scaffolding Confederation (NASC)
- The Prefabricated Access Suppliers’ and Manufacturers’ Association (PASMA)
- The Construction Industry Scaffolders Record Scheme (CISRS)
- The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER)
- The Work at Height Regulations 2005
- The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992
They all seek to protect people from scaffold accidents by highlighting employer duties and obligations like:
- ensure all work equipment is suitable for use and properly maintained
- provision and maintenance of personal protective equipment (PPE)
- plan the work sensibly to minimise risks
- make sure the labour is supervised and carried out by competent people
- provide proper training to workers and inform them about any risks to their health and safety
- follow the BS1139 Standard For Scaffold Materials
- check the scaffolding before the first use, every seven days when it is up, and after any alterations
- make sure the maximum working loads and number of people allowed at the same time on the scaffold are respected
- maintain an accident report book
- provide adequate first-aid facilities
You have the right to work in a place where the risks to your health and safety are properly explained and controlled. If you suspect that you are in danger, you are entitled to cease working and immediately clear the area.
What steps should I take if I have a scaffolding accident at work?
If you suffered a scaffold injury, the first thing you should do is get immediate medical assistance. Either wait for an ambulance or drive to the hospital, depending on how badly you got hurt. If another party was even partially responsible for your scaffolding accident, you might want to make a scaffolding accident claim.
Once you are out of danger, you need to collect as much evidence as possible to support your compensation claim. You or somebody you trust should:
- Talk to your co-workers or other witnesses about how the events unfolded. Get their contact details so your solicitor can contact them later for a statement.
- Take photographs and videos of your injuries and the site of the accident. Keep a record of your symptoms and your recovery process. This will serve as strong evidence in your scaffolding accident claim.
- File an official accident report with your manager or supervisor. If you were unable to return to work for more than seven consecutive days, the accident must also be reported to the Health and Safety Executive.
- Keep track of all the financial losses and expenses related to your injuries. If your claim is successful, you should receive compensation for medication, hospitalisation, lost earnings, adaptations to your house or vehicle and other special damages you incurred.
A solicitor can help determine who is liable for your accident and how much compensation you could receive. You can contact a legal adviser by calling free on 0800 678 1410. Alternatively, enter your details into our online claim form, and you will receive a call back shortly.
How much compensation will I receive for a scaffolding injury?
There is no fixed compensation for a scaffold injury claim. The amount you could receive depends on the type and extent of injuries you suffered, how they affected your life, and any financial losses you incurred as a result.
General damages cover non-pecuniary losses like pain and suffering. You could claim compensation for:
- physical and emotional trauma
- loss of companionship
- scarring and disfigurement
- loss of life quality
- loss of prospects and enjoyment
- care and support needs
It is difficult to calculate a suitable compensation for general damages, but according to the guidelines published by the Judicial College, you could get:
- Up to £214,350 for a severe leg injury
- £36,770 to £51,460 for a disabling elbow injury
- £85,470 to £151,070 for spinal cord damage
- Up to £112,750 for a neck injury
- £1,675 – £307,000 for a head injury
- £2,675 – £45,500 for a wrist injury
The compensation for special damages is more straightforward and covers financial losses and expenses like:
- treatment costs
- travel expenses
- loss of earnings, including future wages
- rehabilitation and physiotherapy
- adaptations to your home or vehicle
To get an estimate of your compensation prospects based on your unique situation, you can contact a personal injury solicitor by calling 0800 678 1410.
Could I lose my job if I make a scaffolding accident claim against my employer?
If you were injured in a scaffolding accident and believe that your employer should be held liable, you might consider making a scaffolding accident claim against them. However, you might fear getting dismissed or disciplined because of your claim.
However, it is important to know that they will be in breach of UK employment laws by doing so, as it would fall under the category of unfair dismissal. Therefore, you will be able to take further legal action if you feel you have been treated unfairly.
If you report health and safety issues at the workplace, aside from getting the compensation you deserve, you might prevent co-workers from getting hurt in a similar way. If your employer decides to fire you afterwards, you might be able to claim unfair dismissal compensation.
Supposing they don’t dismiss you but instead discipline you by cutting your salary or demoting you, you are the victim of unfair constructive dismissal, which entitles you to take legal action.
If you consider your employer has been unfair after making a personal injury claim against them, you should contact a solicitor. They will protect your legal rights and give you impartial advice about what you should do next.
How much will it cost to make a claim?
Self-funding claims are not very popular due to the high costs involved. You would have to pay the solicitor’s fees and all the legal costs yourself. If you lose, you will also have to pay all the legal fees for the defendant. This involves a high financial risk that not many are inclined to take.
Fortunately, most claims can be settled on a no win no fee basis, also known as a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA). The CFA removes any financial risk. It involves no upfront costs, and if you lose, you will not have to cover any legal fees.
Before agreeing to a no win no fee case, a solicitor will examine your claim and estimate your chances of success. If your case seems solid, they will represent you for a success fee, up to 25% of the compensation award.
A key part of the no win no fee agreement is the After the Event (ATE) insurance, designed to protect you against the financial risks of claiming. Even if you lose the case, the ATE insurance policy will cover the defendant’s legal fees, as well as your expenses.
No matter the outcome of your scaffolding accident claim, you will not lose any money by making a no win no fee injury claim. If you win, the compensation award for general damages is increased by 10% to help cover your success fee.
To find out if you can claim on a no win no fee basis, call 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation with a legal adviser or click here if you would prefer to receive a call back.
Is there a time limit to making a claim for scaffolding injuries?
Generally, you will have up to three years from the day of the accident to claim compensation for a scaffold injury. The last date you can make a claim is known as the limitation date.
If the day you learn of your injury is not the day of the accident, the three-year countdown starts on the date you received your diagnosis.
If a child was injured in a scaffolding accident, a litigation friend could claim compensation on their behalf until they turn 18. After becoming a legal adult, they have until their 21st birthday to claim in their own name.
In the case of fatal accidents, a close family member can claim compensation within three years from the day the victim died.
When the injured person lacks the mental capacity to make a claim, there is no limitation date, and a litigation friend can claim on their behalf at any time. The three-year countdown will begin if they regain intellectual capacity.
Other factors could affect the limitation date, so it is better to make a claim as soon as possible. For more information about which time limit might apply to your case, call 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation with a legal adviser.