Scaffolding Collapses Killing 3 Construction Workers


Scaffolding ExpertThis case involves a scaffolding collapse that killed 3 construction workers. The collapse occurred after a pile of construction materials fell from a crane onto the scaffolding.  It was alleged that the scaffolding should have been able to withstand the impact of the materials falling. It was further alleged that the scaffolding was not properly secured, thus causing it to collapse under the pressure of the impact. An expert in scaffolding structure and design was sought to speak to whether or not scaffolding can maintain integrity under this kind of impact.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Please describe your familiarity with the safe design and structure of scaffolding.
  • 2. Is it possible to have scaffolding that will not collapse even if struck?

Expert Witness Response E-080978

I have 35+ years of experience in the construction and scaffolding space. I currently work as the principal of two scaffolding companies, and I am familiar with the design and structure of safe scaffolding. I have also completed courses in OSHA construction safety and a safety training program for suspended scaffolds. The primary means of preventing a scaffolding collapse from impact is to prevent it from being hit. This is primarily accomplished using concrete jersey barriers. Scaffolding sheds can also be bolted down to the sidewalk, depending on their condition. Extra bracing can be used to affix the scaffolding shed to the sidewalk which will prevent minimal displacement from occurring as a result of an impact.

 

Expert Witness Response E-080734

As a structural engineer, I am very familiar with the safety standards for scaffolding. Although the state does not require that scaffolding be resistant to strikes from large objects, there are ways to prevent scaffolding from collapsing from heavy impact. Scaffolding can be bolted into the ground it rests upon, which should stabilize the legs and prevent the entire structure from collapsing in on impact. Also, scaffolding should always be affixed to the building in some manner, so perhaps the scaffolding was not properly installed, in this case. If done properly, this should also ensure that the entire structure does not cave incompletely and injure pedestrians below. Additionally, concrete jersey barriers can serve as additional protection against impact.

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