Prevent Things From Falling vs Limit the Damage After They Fall
Of all the hazards we must face in construction, gravity plays a big part in many of them. That is certainly the problem with accidentally dropping things. Every year, there are more than 50,000 “struck by falling object” OSHA recordables in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s one injury caused by a dropped object every 10 minutes.
Dropped objects are commonly the cause of a near miss and the circumstances around it should be shared with the team to prevent future dropped objects. The best solution is simple and similar to other preventative safety solutions at Helmkamp. It’s to be proactive.
Below are a few tips for the proactive prevention of dropped objects:
Use tool lanyards to prevent tools from falling
Keep all material at least 3 feet from a leading edge, other than material specifically required for work in process
Remove items from all loose or unsealed pockets, especially top shirt pockets, such as phones, pens, and tools
Do not hang objects over guardrails or steel beams
Secure all objects when working on an elevated surface
Ensure toe boards are in place to prevent workers from falling or rolling over raised platforms
Communicate often; work as a team to avoid complacency and remain mindful of these procedures
Once those prevention methods are in place, prepare in case an object does drop by doing the following:
Rope off the areas where fall or drop hazards may exist if possible
Require hard hats and other required PPE for every person in areas at risk for falling objects
Inspect all PPE prior to use to confirm it still meets manufacturers’ recommendations
Debris nets can provide a way to catch dropped objects, however objects typically don’t fall straight down or can be small enough to slip right through a debris net
While the obvious person at risk when objects are dropped is the one underneath, the worker using the tool also can be at risk, as a knee-jerk reaction may be to catch or go after the falling object, which could cause the worker to lose balance or potentially fall as well. Most organizations have a fall protection program for workers but have not deployed or expanded their program for tools and equipment. Helmkamp has both and reviews these regularly at company safety meetings with team members.