For workers at height the number one safety concern is preventing a fall, whether it be a person or an object. According to Safe Work Australia, Falls are a major cause of death and serious injury in Australian workplaces, and being struck by a falling object is a leading cause of injury for workers and the 4th highest cause of death in the workplace*.
“Fall Protection” has historically referred to the harness and gear that either prevents a person from falling, or protects them in the event of a fall. Today many organisations are starting to understand that fall protection should refer to anything that can fall, including tools and equipment. But with tools and equipment, it’s not about catching the objects that fall, we have to stop them from falling in the first place.
Are Dropped Objects a New Problem?
The more correct question is how long have dropped objects been a problem. The answer is forever! Ever since the cave men days, cave men have been dropping rocks on other cave men. What goes up must come down. It’s all about providing the right equipment and training to ensure that a person, and the tools they carry, come back down safely on the workers’ terms and not that of gravity.
Fall protection for tools is not a new concern; it has been an important topic in the industry for over 100 years. At the turn of the 20th century, the New York Times published an article about dropped objects, in which it described placards posted on a bridge to caution iron workers to handle tools with care in order to avoid dropping them into the river. Still today, the most common strategy is to use signage to warn workers and passersby of the potential dangers that might occur when approaching a certain area.
Putting up warning signs, wearing hard hats, or using plywood boards to protect the sidewalk below might seem like an effective strategy, but it does not work 100% of the time. Why not? First, when objects fall, their trajectory isn’t always predictable. However, the main reason these measures lack effectiveness is that they focus on protecting people and surfaces from dropped objects, rather than addressing the source of the problem. Striving to reduce the number of dropped objects is key to truly eliminating the issue at its source.
Dropped Object Prevention
Many companies overlook the importance of personal fall arrest systems, but even more fail to address systems designed to keep tools from falling. All too often they solely rely on secondary systems such as debris nets, toe boards, and personal protective equipment to catch the tool or to limit the damage that it does to the worker. Little thought is put into stopping the tool from falling in the first place.
The danger of a dropped object is often underestimated. Even the smallest object dropped from a height as low as 200 centimetres can result in serious injury or death.
One common misconception is that hard hats are an acceptable line of defence against dropped objects. But the truth is that hard hats only provide limited protection and cannot prevent workers from being injured by all dropped objects…only dropped object prevention does.
Fall Protection for Tools
The 3M™ DBI-SALA® range of Fall Protection for Tools solutions has been developed to prevent dropped tools and equipment and is ideal for use in applications that involve work being performed at height, over water or open pits, and anywhere dropped or lost objects are a concern. Fall Protection for Tools make work environments safer and more productive by drastically reducing incidents resulting in personal injury, equipment damage, and tool loss. All products are third-party tested and maintain or enhance the tools functionality when used at height or near critical assemblies.
Spill Control Buckets are designed to help workers transport objects from one area to another. These objects are typically larger in size, including scaffold poles, torque wrenches, and pipe wrenches. A bucket should come with an effective closure system such as a hook and loop closure system, allowing the user to lock it or use it easily.
Learn more about our comprehensive range of drop prevention solutions designed for a wide range of industries and applications. Fall protection for tools minimise falling object incidents to keep you, your workers and those around you, safe.
Dropped Objects Aren’t About You
Preventing dropped object falls is not just the responsibility of the safety supervisor or the site owner. It is everyone’s responsibility to manage these risks because the impact might not be personal, but it might affect your co-workers and unseen bystanders.
We all have to work together to STOP the DROP!
Dropped objects can result in huge property damage, lost tools or, worse yet, injury or death. At 3M it is our mission to enhance productivity, protect people and improve lives by solving complex health and safety challenges through the Science of Safety - drawing from our breadth of technology, knowledge and experience. We can partner with you to develop an entire dropped objects prevention program that fits your needs, from site assessment through to implementation.
Contact a 3M Fall Protection Specialist for more information or view the range of 3M™ DBI-SALA® Fall Protection for Tools products and resources.
Download our White Paper: Stop the Drop, to learn more about how 3M™ DBI-SALA® Fall Protection for Tools can protect workers from hazards that can result in personal injury,equipment damage and tool loss.
*Source: Safe Work Australia - Work-related Traumatic Injury Fatalities, Australia 2016