Imagine working below a platform or scaffold, with workmates above busy working without tool tethers. You are doing something else below them, when suddenly one of your co-workers accidentally drops a tool. Ooops. You are not hit or, better, if there were no one below. But, what if there was someone?
Well, consider using our safety product range under the NLG (Never Let Go) brand.
A comprehensive range of products, the NLG range, in a nutshell includes: a wide offering of lanyards of various kinds that are used to tether tools: storage bags, buckets and other containers to carry tools; bands, loops, belts and so on used for similar and other protective use.
Going back to falling tools, which can happen often enough. Consider the following:
Safety in the workplace or worksite is paramount. So, does your safety assessment include the possibility of falling objects? Placing a sign “Beware of falling objects” doesn’t really cut it.
How dangerous are dropped objects?
Just consider the impact forces that are generated when an object is dropped at a height.
Even with some form of protection, the result of being struck by an item of relatively low weight can be significant. For instance, a 2 kg hammer dropped at a five metre height will have the impact force of over one tonne. Wow, right? It’s just a matter of simple physics, really.
Consider that dropped objects quickly build up a significant impact force. Plus, if they strike a person, they don’t always just bounce off (e.g., use of PPE like a hard hat), they can penetrate soft tissue with disastrous consequences. As well, a safe exclusion zone that allows enough range for deflections is rarely practical.
It’s also not just a matter of inadequate risk assessment for such incidents, but one really has to take into account the human factor. Here we consider the possibility of operator error, poor behavior, complacency and even neglect. Part of safety considerations on site also covers training or awareness of such hazards.
Obviously, you also have to look at the fact that no tool lanyards or tethers are being used. Also, there’s the possibility of no containment of loose items. Hand tools, power tools, mobile phones, even Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) are all examples of equipment and tools that should be securely tethered with tool lanyards.
Remember that with tool lanyards, dropped tools can be safely caught before any impact!
The danger of falling objects in Australia
But surely, this is not a problem in Australia, right? Well, guess what it is. According to Safe Work Australia, between 2010 and 2014 falling objects in Australia caused: 125 fatalities (that’s more than ‘falls from height’ for the same period!
And, there were 15,410 Serious Workers Compensations Claims during the same period. (A serious claim is an accepted workers’ compensation claim that involves one or more weeks away from work).
Well, what does this mean to an Occupational Health and Safety Officer or an employer or manager?
Dropping tools and equipment has a huge negative impact on productivity. Often tools fall long distances, requiring considerable time to retrieve. If they fall into water, machinery or other ‘non-retrievable’ locations, it can delay or even prevent the task being completed on schedule.
What’s more, Dropping and losing tools costs money in terms of damage and replacement.
Another important consideration is that, in the event of a dropped object incident, there can be lengthy legal implications and expensive bills to pay. And, if members of the public are involved, it can compound the problem and lead to other intangible costs, like brand and reputational damage.
Finally, and most importantly, is the potential loss of life. Even with recoverable injuries, it is traumatic for the persons and families involved. After all, this can lead to the loss of income and ongoing medical expenses. Remember, if you are working in public areas, it is not just your workforce at risk, but anyone passing nearby.
So, have I got your attention?
Preventing the danger of falling tools with Tool Tethers
Our focus in this article is on prevention as a means of preventing such accidents. These include materials like toe boards, handrails, netting and hard hats. Note that these tool tethers examples are all considered to be secondary defense (sometimes called mitigating controls). What they really are is a ‘back up’ system for when an object has been dropped and are designed to catch it or reduce the impact after the drop.
On the other hand, tool tethering is a primary system (or preventative control) as it is designed to stop the drop in the first place. Today, proactive Health and Safety Officers around the world are adopting this methodology and introducing tool tethering policies to stop drops before they happen.
Let’s look at lanyards and how this will help on this issue. As mentioned previously, our NLG range of lanyards is quite comprehensive.
Coil tool lanyards, with quick clip connection hold the tool close to the user when dropped. Same goes for the helmet lanyard, which attaches to a hard hat. There also webbing tool lanyards and bungee tool lanyards, which as the name implies operate like a bungee rope.
Variations of the above tool include extended lengths to allow for more flexible tool use in the worksite.
Ancillary equipment cover attachments, including those tool tethers with quick clips for easy attachment to a work belt, tethering loops, etc., which we also supply.
Thus, you can see we’ve got the range that can provide a user the choice for their specific worksite requirements of tool tethers. Considering the cost and pain of accidents involving falling tools, you must really look at use of NLG lanyards as an insurance policy against these occurrences.