Working at High Elevations? Know the Dangers of Falling Objects

Working at High Elevations? Know the Dangers of Falling Objects

Did you know that 241 people died on the job in 2012 from falling objects? That accounts for 5% of all workplace fatalities (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Dangers of Falling Objects

A dropped object isn’t just an inconvenience. It can cause serious equipment damage, injury, and even death. In the food industry, a dropped object can also cause contamination, ruining expensive batches of food product.

But even if the dropped object doesn’t cause injury or damage, it still takes time to climb down and retrieve it—which hurts productivity.

“Any loose object at height can become a dropped object,” said Nate Bohmbach, a Product Manager for Ergodyne. “That can be a hand tool, a hard hat, eyewear, or even a bottle of water.”

More: Ladders—No Need to “Tie Off”

Biggest Mistake at Elevation

Bohmbach added that one of the biggest mistakes people make when working at elevation is carrying too many tools.

“Even if the job only needs 1 tool, a worker is very likely to carry up their entire toolkit so they won’t have to climb back down,” he said. “They tend to overload themselves, which creates a dangerous situation.”

Once the extra tools are up in the workspace, they become tripping, falling, and tipping hazards—and clutter up the workspace, slowing progress. Pulling a wrench from the bottom of a bucket—or accidentally kicking a loose tool off a ledge—are common risks of this mistake.

“Having all these extra tools and parts at height leads to a greater chance of a dropped object,” Bohmbach said.

More: Check out ANSI’s New Fall Protection Requirements

OSHA’s Requirements

In their non-construction General Industry Standard, OSHA states:

Tools, material, and debris not related to the work in progress shall not be allowed to accumulate on platforms.

In their Construction Standard, OSHA says:

All materials, equipment and tools, which are not in use while aloft, shall be secured against accidental displacement.

More: Fall Protection Competent Person Training

Use the 3 T’s

To prevent the dangers of falling objects and to meet OSHA requirements, Bohmbach recommends using a combo of the ‘3 T’s’ to maximize safety:

Tool Traps

Use tool traps to retrofit old tools with new connection points—allowing you to tether them safely.

Tethering

Use a lanyard to tie off tools, equipment, even sunglasses and water bottles. “New lanyards have evolved to be smart and comfortable,” Bohmbach said. “For example, Ergodyne now makes a retractable tool belt lanyard that prevents snags, and a shock absorbing lanyard that absorbs the impact of falling tools.”

Topping

Make sure that any open container (such as tool pouches or paint cans) are secured with a weight-rated cover.

Who Uses the 3T’s?

Bohmbach said that their products are used heavily by the oil and gas industry, telecom, construction, food processing, manufacturing, and nuclear. But industries that primarily do work on the ground are also now learning about the issues associated with dropped objects, he added.

“Lots of industries are now realizing that falling objects are a major issue,” Bohmbach said. “It’s one of Ergodyne’s fastest-growing product categories.”

More: Are You Wearing the Right PPE?

About Ergodyne

Since 1983, Ergodyne has pioneered the development of safety products that Make The Workplace A Betterplace™. What started with just one product has grown into a line of top flight, battle-tested, Tenacious Work Gear®; all precision crafted to provide protection, improve productivity and manage the elements for workers on jobsites the world over. The current lineup is extensive and constantly growing including: Hand Protection, Knee Pads, Supports, Footwear Accessories, Cooling Products, Warming Products, Hi-Vis Apparel, Lanyards, Equipment Storage Systems, Performance Work Wear, Portable Work Shelters, and Head Protection.

Prevent falling objects

Contact Gary Porter, the Safety/Warehouse Equipment Group Director at IBT Industrial Solutions, at (913) 261-2143 or gporter@ibtinc.com.

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