Fall Arrest System: Don’t Fool with your Tools

fall arrest system for tools at hercules slr

You likely know about a Fall Arrest System for your body–but what about your tools? Fall protection for tools is the ‘F’ of the ABCDE’s of Fall Protection. A fall arrest system for tools to prevent drops is essential for a safe worksite. Tools dropped from heights are the third cause on injury on work sites. Preventing tools from slips leads to safer, quicker more productive work. 

FALL ARREST SYSTEM: HAVE A PREVENTION PLAN IN PLACE

When a tool falls, gravity takes over. This is why it’s essential to have a plan in place to address issues that lead to injuries at heights and prevent the fall in the first place. Workers’ need to be protected when at heights 6ft or higher, which really, isn’t all that high. Many different industries perform work at this height, and many perform work much higher. 

There are three good reasons to have a fall prevention plan to reduce (and hopefully, eliminate) tools dropped on a worksite.

SAFETY 

Dropping tools leads to injuries, fatalities and can increase hazardous risks around the worksite. Tools that fall from heights are the third cause of injuries on construction sites. 

PRODUCTIVITY

When tools are dropped on a worksite, injuries often happen. This means that work must stop temporarily – and sometimes, indefinitely. When a tool is dropped or broken and especially if it injures someone, a investigation must take place to determine the exact circumstances that caused the injury.  

OPERATIONS  

Dropping tools can effect the operations of the day, and often the company at large. When a tool drops, work needs to be stopped so they can investigate the incident. Usually, this means workers’ are paid even though work has stopped while the situation is dealt with. Depending on the damage, this usually means that equipment needs repairs too, which results in maintenance costs and time that the machinery or gear will be out of use. 

WHY IS A FALL ARREST SYSTEM FOR TOOLS SO IMPORTANT? THE NUMBERS

As mentioned, tools dropped from heights are the third cause of injuries on construction sites. In Canada alone, 27,000 people every year are hit by tools on a work site—this means 80 people a day are hit and likely injured by dropped tools. 30 of these each year are fatal.

Fall from heights are the fourth cause of workplace injury. Over 14,000 injuries are caused by falls each year, and of these 14,000, 40 are fatal.    

TOOL FALL ARREST SYSTEM: THE PRICE OF DROPPED EQUIPMENT

Human life can’t be replaced. We know not using tool fall protection at heights leads to injury, but beyond being dangerous, there’s considerable financial impact, too. 

There’s other costs associated with dropped tools that go far beyond just replacing broken equipment. Consider administration time and fees to file paperwork, equipment replacement, inspection or repair, legal fees and consequences, time spent to find more employees or production-loss when there are fewer workers’ at the same job, training for new employees and insurance fees. It’s worth your time and money to invest in fall protection and arrest systems for tools. 

FALL FROM ROOFS: $119,000
FALLS FROM HEIGHTS: $66,000
FALLS FROM LADDERS: $82,000
FALLS DOWN STEPS: $48,000
 
 

WHY DO PEOPLE DROP THEIR TOOLS? 10 REASONS

  1. Inadequate risk assessment
  2. Human Error: Although normal, natural human errors have severe consequences at heights. These include operator error, poor behaviour, complacency or neglect. 
  3. Tools or equipment stored inadequately: Includes tool lanyards or tethers not being used or not containing loose items. 
  4. Inadequate risk assessment or procedures: This could be from poor planning, not managing changing hazards on various worksites. 
  5. Failed fixtures or fittings: Includes corrosion, poor design, vibration and selection or installation.
  6. Poor Housekeeping: This could be pre-existing hazards from previous work, or other debris. 
  7. Collisions and snagging: Happens often when lifting, with travelling equipment and on taglines and service loops. 
  8. Inadequate Inspection, repair and maintenance: Ignoring unsafe conditions
  9. Redundant, neglected and homemade tools and equipment (these should be eliminated)
  10. Environmental Factors: Includes wind, rain, harsh winter and heat. 

WHAT TOOLS DO PEOPLE DROP? 3 MOST COMMON TOOLS

The three most commonly-dropped things on a construction may or may not surprise you. They are:

  1. Tape Measure
  2. Hard hat
  3. Cellphone/Radio 

WHERE DO FALLEN TOOLS GO? THE ANSWER MIGHT SURPRISE YOU 

Dropped tools don’t fall straight down—this is called falling object deflection (see figure 1). When you drop a tool, it can deflect in any direction. As we mentioned, workers’ need tool fall protection when they’re working up to 6-feet high, since a tool dropped from this height can deflect up to 20-metres away. This means that an innocent person, minding their own business that not on the site could very likely be struck by a dropped object. For workers’ that are even higher (which is more common than you think), say 200-feet high, a tool can deflect up to 128-metres away.

Even small objects pick up enormous force when dropped (see figure 2). This force means that something as non-threatening as a tape measure can be deadly if dropped. 

tool fall protection deflection
Figure 1—Chart via 3M

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tool fall arret and impact forces via 3m
Figure 2—Impact Forces Chart via 3M

INDUSTRIES 

As we mentioned, any industry that does work 6-feet or higher will benefit from a tool fall arrest system. Are you a telecom specialist, tradesperson or part of a theatre rigging crew? You should probably have a tool fall prevention plan (this include the right equipment) ready. 

In particular, the following industries benefit from a fall arrest system for tools: 

  • Construction
  • Utilities 
  • General Manufacturing 

The number of injuries from dropped tools on Canadian worksites continues to grow – this is why it’s important for workplaces to have a tool-drop prevention plan in place. This helps your construction crew manage productivity, safety concerns, asset management and the high costs associated with accidents.  


FOR MORE INFORMATION ON TOOL PROTECTION,

CHECK OUT OUR BLOGS:

TOOL FALL PROTECTION: MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOU THINK 

FALL PROTECTION FOR TOOLS: STOP THE DROP

FALL PROTECTION TRAINING: DON’T GET LEFT BEHIND 


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Need to stay protected at heights? Hercules SLR will lift you there.

Click here to learn more about fall arrest systems at Hercules SLR. 

Hercules SLR is part of the Hercules Group of Companies which offers a unique portfolio of businesses nationally with locations from coast to coast. Our companies provide an extensive coverage of products and services that support the success of a wide range of business sectors across Canada including the energy, oil & gas, manufacturing, construction, aerospace, infrastructure, utilities, oil and gas, mining and marine industries.

Hercules Group of Companies is comprised of: Hercules SLRHercules Machining & Millwright ServicesSpartan Industrial MarineStellar Industrial Sales and Wire Rope Atlantic.

We have the ability to provide any solution your business or project will need. Call us today for more information. 1-877-461-4876. Don’t forget to follow us on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn for more news and upcoming events.

PPE Fall Protection in North America

Hercules SLR

PPE Fall Protection: the early lanyard

PPE Fall Protection devices were used in the early 20th Century by many professionals, although they used rope lanyards made of natural fibers, such as manila hemp, and simple body belts with no shock-absorbing properties. Clarence W. Rose–who early in his career was a window washer–became a pioneer in fall protection when he started the Rose Mfg. Co. in 1934 and began producing safety belts and lanyards for window washers. On Nov. 24, 1959, Rose was awarded a patent for an easy-to-use cable connector for safety belts that also had some shock-absorbing properties (U.S. Patent 2,914,139). Listed in the patent was a statement that the connector could, among other things, “be adapted to slip somewhat responsive to a sudden jerk as when the safety rope checks the fall of a wearer and thereby eases the shock to the wearer incurred by checking the fall.”

PPE Fall Protection
Madison Avenue Window Cleaner

PPE Fall Protection: shock-absorption major leap forward

Joseph Feldstein, manager of Technical Services at MSA, which purchased the Rose Mfg. Co. in 1996, said the idea of a shock absorber was a major step forward in protecting against the large braking forces generated in arresting falls, especially during Rose’s time.

“If you can imagine, workers with a simple belt and lanyard arrangement that was common up until that point would be exposed to a fall that could not only damage them internally because of the forces exerted to the soft tissues of the abdomen around the belt, but also you could generate such forces that you could separate the lanyard,” he said.

Rose continued to develop his shock-absorbing concept and was awarded several patents for newer and better shock absorbers. Ultimately, his designs influenced the creation of the modern-day shock absorber. Rose also received many other patents related in some way to preventing or protecting workers from falls. An example is the patent for an early “Ladder Climber” harness system (U.S. Patent 2,886,227) that contains two hook lanyards that are both attached to a harness. While ascending or descending, a worker grasps one hook in each hand and secures them over alternating ladder rungs.

Decades later, the industry would see the emergence of locking snap hook connectors and full-body harnesses, both gaining much more acceptance in the 1980s. In 1990, OSHA enacted regulation 1910.66. Craig Firl, product marketing manager in Hardgoods for Capital Safety-USA, said appendix C in this regulation was the key to getting several areas of fall protection technology up to date.

“Even though that particular standard at that time allowed for non-locking-type hooks to be used in a fall protection-type system, they recommended the locking type to be used because they were safer hooks and more compatible,” Firl said.

PPE Fall Protection: more hardware than ever

Feldstein agreed, adding that the acceptance of the locking snap hook led to the creation of a whole new series of connecting anchorage systems: straps, D-rings, and more. “And that’s continued to evolve to its current state, where we now have personalized anchorage connectors for almost every application, whether it’s building construction or general industry,” he said. Even though body belts were still allowed, Feldstein said appendix C acknowledged that OSHA recognized full-body harnesses as a major innovation in fall arrest. “Belts are still permissible in positioning, but in a fall, you definitely want to be protected by a full-body harness. It distributes the load across your chest and the bony mass of your hip, where your body is most capable of absorbing a blow, and it protects the soft tissue of the abdomen,” Feldstein said.

Two years after 1910.66 arrived, the ANSI committee released standard Z359.1, the key fall protection standard in use today. Most notably, it required the use of full-body harnesses and self-locking snap hooks. Firl said this voluntary compliance standard put pressure on OSHA to recognize that its existing standard needed updating and encouraged the completion of another fall protection standard for the construction industry, Subpart M, in 1995. According to this standard, as of Jan. 1, 1998, the use of body belts and non-locking snap hooks was prohibited.

During the ’80s, Self-Retracting Lanyards (SRLs) gained in development and use. They had been developed in the 1950s for offshore oil production in the North Sea but quickly became a common component in fall protection systems worldwide. Feldstein said SRLs became so valuable because they allowed workers to be protected along a much greater length of travel, increasing productivity without sacrificing safety. He described a scenario for rail car workers:

“Workers could be protected from the ground level and all the way up to the top of the rail car while they were working along the train’s length because the SRL could be mounted mobilely overhead. So that afforded a new type of protection for all types of workers in transportation, everything from rail cars, truck load-outs, and air craft maintenance.”

Regarding fall protection’s future, Firl and Feldstein said they believe comfort will continue to advance. Firl also foresees advances into niche markets with specialized materials and components, similar to the vacuum anchors’ progression into the airline industry for maintenance work on aircraft, whose surfaces can’t be penetrated with traditional-type anchors.
“In the past, a harness was a harness. It didn’t really matter if it was for construction, or utility work, or warehousing, it was a harness,” he said. “Now, you’re starting to see more specialized gear. . .  As an example, in the utility segment, you would see extensively the use of flame-resistant materials . . . because they’re concerned about heat resistance; they’re concerned about being able to resist arc flash and so forth.”

At Hercules SLR we stock MSA, 3M and Honeywell Miller PPE and fall protection products, to provide you with an extensive, high quality range of PPE Fall Protection products. Our in-house experts will advise you on what equipment best suits your project. When it comes time for your yearly inspections and service, our technicians can inspect, repair and certify your gear. For more information on our Fall Protection products and Services, please call: 1-877-461-4876.

References
https://ohsonline.com/Articles/2007/01/01/PPEvolution.aspx?Page=4

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Hercules SLR is part of the Hercules Group of Companies which offers a unique portfolio of businesses nationally with locations from coast to coast. Our companies provide an extensive coverage of products and services that support the success of a wide range of business sectors across Canada including the energy, oil & gas, manufacturing, construction, aerospace, infrastructure, utilities, oil and gas, mining and marine industries.

Hercules Group of Companies is comprised of: Hercules SLRHercules Machining & Millwright ServicesSpartan Industrial MarineStellar Industrial Sales and Wire Rope Atlantic.

Tool Fall Protection: more important than you think

tool-fall-protection-safety-harness

Tool Fall Protection: confidence at heights

During Summer 2018, in Providence, Rhode Island ironworkers strapped on their fall protection – tool fall protection included, to start work on a major project.

“That guy’s nuts!” exclaims Steven Strychasz, a nearby civilian watching ironworkers work on the steel skeleton new Residence Inn Providence Hotel.

The guys who’s ‘nuts’? That’s Kyle Coulombe, 31 an ironworker who climbing 50-feet, with an 800-pound beam suspended over his head while working on the hotel.

Fall Protection: essential for working at height

Crane operator Steve Berube inches his hoist so Coulumbe can align a bolt hole at the end of a coloumn so the two will connect. Then, he walks along the beam to connect the other coloumn while the crane holds steady. Coulumbe attaches his safety line to the top flange of the beam. He now hangs from the crane hook by a cable. He resets his cable line, and continues working.

This amazes the crowd—his ability to seamlessly navigate and climb around the huge iron columns and beams.

What allows Coulumbe to do this with ease? His skills, his nerves, but mainly—the fall protection attached to his safety harness. His fall protection system not only keeps his body safe, but his tools too. Coulumbe carries approximately 60 pounds of tools in his harness daily, including nuts, bolts and a 9-pound sledge hammer.

tool-fall-protection-safety-harness

Fall Protection: it’s for your tools, too

Tool fall protection is also essential when working at heights. Many people don’t consider the damage or pain from, for example—a nine-pound sledge hammer falling on their head. However, according to Canadian Occupational Safety (COS) in 2013 there were nearly 9000 injuries caused by falling tools. 23 of these injuries were fatal.

Tool Fall Protection: do the math

To put this in perspective, COS suggests calculating with physics—they use a common, eight-pound wrench as example. If this wrench was dropped from 200-feet above, it would hit with 2,833 pounds per square inch of force—the equivalent of a Clydesdale horse hitting a one-square inch area. This is why tool fall protection is just as important as securing your body.

According to COS, the shape of a tool or equipment can have an equally disastrous effect. For example, a two-pound hammer could drop from a three-metre height onto a hard hat, and the impact would be minimal—but a two-pound sleever bar dropped from this height would go directly through the hard hat, and will puncture the skull.

Accidents don’t just happen from tools falling. Often, a worker attempts to catch his tool and can lose his balance, or drops the tool which then becomes a tripping hazard for unsuspecting workers below.

Next time you work at height, protect yourself, others and your tools with the right fall protection.

Read our blog on the importance of choosing a comfortable safety harness to ensure your fall protection fits properly.

References here: https://www.wireropenews.com/news-201808-When-Lives-are-on-the-Line.html
http://www.providencejournal.com/news/20180721/iron-men-love-their-jobs-bolting-together-future-in-providence
https://www.cos-mag.com/personal-process-safety/31597-objects-falling-from-heights-on-construction-sites-lead-to-injuries/

Hercules SLR is part of the Hercules Group of Companies which offers a unique portfolio of businesses nationally with locations from coast to coast. Our companies provide an extensive coverage of products and services that support the success of a wide range of business sectors across Canada including the energy, oil & gas, manufacturing, construction, aerospace, infrastructure, utilities, oil and gas, mining and marine industries.

Hercules Group of Companies is comprised of: Hercules SLRHercules Machining & Millwright ServicesSpartan Industrial MarineStellar Industrial Sales and Wire Rope Atlantic.