Safety when working at heights goes beyond standard fall protection. Tools and equipment must also be secured to prevent dangerous “stuck-by” accidents. For example, an 8-lb. tool falling from just 100 feet strikes the earth with over 2,000 lbs. of force per square inch. Hard hats and drop zones will offer little when an object carrying this kind of energy makes a direct impact or even deflects and travels parallel to the ground.
Falling object hazards are one of the most deadly hazards found at job sites – especially in the construction industry. Approximately 5% of all occupational deaths are from “struck-by” accidents. But it’s more than injury that a dropped object can cause. It can cause serious equipment or tool damage, and loss of time/productivity while retrieving it.
In the Construction Standard 1926.759 , OSHA says:
All materials, equipment and tools, which are not in use while aloft, shall be secured against accidental displacement.
There are general ways to prevent the dangers of falling objects and to meet OSHA requirements.
1. Attachment Points – Each tool must have a proper attachment point. Some tools have pre-existing holes for attachments, while others may need the attachment taped or fitted with an end cap.
2. Tethering - Once an attachment point has been installed on a tool, a lanyard can be used to tie the tool off. There are many kinds of lanyards with features such as shock absorption, self-locking carabiners, and retractable lines.
When using any tether and/or attachment point, it is critical to never exceed the load rating of any individual component. Different attachment points and tethers have different weight-ratings, so be sure to choose the proper type for your tool’s weight.
3. Cover - Any open container in transit or when not in use (such as buckets or tool pouches) must be secured with a weight-rated cover. There are even buckets and pouches designed specifically for drop prevention. Python Safety Safe Buckets and Tool Pouches feature a built-in closure system that helps prevent dropped objects.
Many industries are now realizing that falling objects are a major issue. Recognizing the issue is a great first step, and embracing the concept of a complete dropped object solution goes a long way toward establishing a successful safety program.