Personal Fall Protection is for YOU, Fall Protection for Tools is for EVERYONE.
Working at height poses unique risks and hazards that you typically wouldn't come across while working at ground level. Most workers think when they work at heights that all they need is their personal fall protection equipment and they will be safe. To a point this is correct, you are protecting yourself, but what about your fellow workers below you? What happens if that wrench you are working with slips out of your hand? There's a good chance it may just make a loud thud and hit the ground harmlessly, but what if it doesn't? Not having the proper tool drop prevention equipment can turn a simple dropped tool into a deadly object in a split second.
Dropped Object Hazards
According to OSHA Recordables (in 2015), there were 42,400 recorded Struck By Falling Objects or Equipment per year.
This breaks down to 116 recorded incidents PER DAY!
Identifying potential dropped object hazards on the job site can be as simple as spotting a hand tool or box of anchors near an at-height edge. However, dropped hazards aren't always so obvious, like a wrench carelessly placed in a pocket or hammer unsecured in a tool pouch. In either case, these potential hazards can become a dropped object at any moment. In the case of dropped tools and equipment, there are two types of falling object hazards:
- Direct Impact
If you are working at a height of 50 ft., that wrench you just dropped will reach a speed of 39 MPH and hit the ground, equipment, or possibly a fellow worker with an impact force of 1,660 lbs. With an impact force like that, anyone that gets hit by this wrench will be walking away with a serious injury, if they are lucky enough to walk away at all.
A dropped object that deflects off a surface or object can pose just as great a risk as an object that is a direct impact. This is because, while worksites will have designated "Drop Zones" to keep workers and others outside of these danger zones, a wrench weighing 8.3 lbs. could theoretically deflect and travel horizontally for hundreds of feet. At that distance, this deflected object can easily travel outside of the designated "drop zone", potentially putting unsuspecting and unprepared victims at risk.
Tool Drop Prevention
No Longer an Option, Tool Drop Safety is a MUST.
Fortunately, these hazards can be avoided with the proper safety precautions and tool drop prevention equipment. No longer is tool drop safety a recommendation, but now a requirement with ANSI/ISEA 121-2018 Dropped Objects Standard - this standard focuses on preventative solutions actively used by workers to lessen the hazards of dropped tools and other objects. Fall Protection for Tools is similar to a personal fall arrest system. A tool drop prevention system incorporates some form of attachment points, connectors, and anchor points.
Tool Attachment Points
The first point of the tool drop prevention model, tool attachment points are secure points on tools or equipment where they can be tethered safely with a lanyard. Once a tool contains an attachment point, it is considered "tether-ready". Attachment points must be rated for the weight of the tool being used and must not hinder the use of the tool at all. Some of the most popular attachment points are:
- 3M™ DBI-SALA® Quick Spin
- 3M™ DBI-SALA® Quick Ring
- 3M™ DBI-SALA® D-ring Cord
- 3M™ DBI-SALA® D-ring and Quick-Wrap Tape
- 3M™ DBI-SALA® Tool Cinch Attachments
For Additional information on retrofitting your tools, please check out our Retrofit Your Tools for Tool Drop Prevention Page.
Once your tool is "tether-ready" you are ready for your connector. Connectors are tool lanyards, tethers, and retractors. Your connector should be securely attached to the attachment point on the tool and not hinder the use of the tool at all. The tool lanyard must be rated for the weight of the tool being used. Once connected to the tool, you will then connect the other side of the connector to a secure anchor point. Different styles of connectors include:
The third and final point of the tool drop prevention model is the anchor point. These anchor points can take a number of forms due to the wide range of tool sizes, shapes, and weights. This anchor point must be secure enough to withstand the weight of the tool that is dropped. Anchor points can be broken up into two different categories: On-Body and Off-Body. Off-Body Anchors are used for tools and equipment over 5 lbs., these anchor points can be rebar, scaffolding, railing, or any other approved tie-off location. On-Body Anchors are used for tools that weigh under 5lbs., the most common on-body anchor points are:
Check Out Our Tethered-Tool Selection! These tether-ready power tools and hand tools have the proper tool attachment point already preassembled for you.
Following the 3 Point Tool Drop Prevention Model and using the proper tool drop prevention equipment will greatly reduce the risk of drop hazards on your job site. This will help lead to more productive workdays, reduce lost/damaged tools, save money from damage/downtime and most importantly you can save someone from serious injury or even death.
Interested in implementing fall protection for tools at your job site? We wrote The Complete Guide to Building a Work at Heights Safety Program, and you can download it for free at this link: