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.
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.
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.
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.
WHY DO PEOPLE DROP THEIR TOOLS? 10 REASONS
Inadequate risk assessment
Human Error: Although normal, natural human errors have severe consequences at heights. These include operator error, poor behaviour, complacency or neglect.
Tools or equipment stored inadequately: Includes tool lanyards or tethers not being used or not containing loose items.
Inadequate risk assessment or procedures: This could be from poor planning, not managing changing hazards on various worksites.
Failed fixtures or fittings: Includes corrosion, poor design, vibration and selection or installation.
Poor Housekeeping: This could be pre-existing hazards from previous work, or other debris.
Collisions and snagging: Happens often when lifting, with travelling equipment and on taglines and service loops.
Inadequate Inspection, repair and maintenance: Ignoring unsafe conditions
Redundant, neglected and homemade tools and equipment (these should be eliminated)
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:
- Tape Measure
- Hard hat
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.
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:
- 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.