refinery workers looking down from high scaffoldingIf you or someone you love is employed at an oil refinery, you are well aware of the risks that come with the job. From explosions to toxic spills, there is plenty to be cautious about on the job. However, one other injury risk to be aware of is scaffolding in the workplace. These tall structures are essential for some job functions, but at times are precarious or poorly built.

Types of Scaffolding Accidents

Scaffolding injuries can result from a few different scenarios. All of these are a real risk while working in an oil refinery.

Scaffolding Collapse

A collapse can happen for a variety of reasons but is almost always the result of poor construction. If the scaffolding assembly is rushed or installed by inexperienced people, it may collapse. If the scaffolding is built with defective parts or materials, that can also pose a risk. Other reasons for a collapse include overloading the platforms, poor maintenance, or collision with a large, heavy object like a warehouse vehicle.


Falling is another significant cause of scaffolding injuries. Refinery workers are completing physical tasks on a high, unstable surface when working on scaffolding. The railings may not offer a lot of protection if one were to lose their footing.


Scaffolding injuries can also occur while erecting or dismantling the structure. Working with heavy poles and platforms is always challenging, and the height at which scaffolding must reach to be functional puts those assembling it in a precarious position. Dismantling can lead to pieces of the structure coming down suddenly, and taking your eye off the task at hand for even a moment can result in a catastrophic injury.

Injuries That Can Occur

There are a variety of injuries that can occur from a scaffolding accident. They may include:

  • Broken bones
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Lacerations
  • Accidental amputations
  • Concussions
  • Facial fractures
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Crushed limbs

How to Prevent Scaffolding Injuries

If you work around scaffolding, there are a few ways to keep things safer. These include:

  • Keeping refinery workspaces in good order. Properly organize tools and materials on the scaffolding and only have out what’s needed.
  • Complete appropriate training. All workers interacting with scaffolding in any way should receive proper training from their employer.
  • Know scaffolding load capacity. Scaffolding is built for a specific amount of weight, and when this is exceeded, it can lead to a collapse. Do not overload the structure with workers or equipment.
  • Wear personal protective equipment. Never climb scaffolding without non-slip shoes or appropriate head protection. Safety harnesses are also helpful if available.

What to Do If You’re Injured

If you are injured in an oil refinery scaffolding accident, the most important thing to do is seek medical attention immediately. Next, file an accident report with your employer. Once you have done these two things, the next urgent box to check is contacting an attorney. Even oil refineries that don’t carry workers’ comp are insured for accidents, and you deserve compensation if you are injured on the job.

At SJ Injury Attorneys, our staff is well-versed in refinery accidents caused by unstable structures, and we are able to guide you through the process, starting immediately after your accident all the way through receiving damages. Call us today to speak to an attorney ready and willing to help you get started.

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