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Protecting Workers From Hazards That Can Result In Personal Injury, Equipment Damage and Tool Loss


June 7, 2017

Working at height continues to represent a major safety management challenge for most workplace health and safety professionals, however increasingly it is not just ‘people falls’ that are an issue. A total of 275 people died as a direct consequence of a fall from a height in the period 2003 to 2012 in Australia; around 11% of total fatalities. Surprisingly however, an additional 227 people died in the same period as a consequence of being hit by a falling object; about 9% of total fatalities.

The Cost Of Drops

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.

The cost of lost time in both health outcomes for workers and lost productivity time is concerning. Importantly, it is also the worker’s families that bear the brunt of the impact of these injuries, through loss of income and medical expenses that may follow from the incident.

In addition, the loss of the items themselves can be costly. If objects are dropped over water, into mud, machinery, down holes and other difficult-to-reach places, they are effectively a sunk cost needing replacement.

Primary Versus Secondary Consequence

When people consider the use of fall protection equipment, they are primarily concerned about protecting themselves or their workers and contractors. Items such as anchoring devices (A), full-body safety harnesses (B), a fall arrest lanyard or self-retracting lifeline to connect between the two (C) and some defined rescue means to allow for safe descent (D) are the core components of a fall protection safety system. In this sense, they are concerned about the ‘primary consequence’ of a fall.

When it comes to items such as tools and equipment they use for their job, these are often however ‘after-thoughts’. These items are as equally as important to consider if they fall, as dropping them can have secondary consequences on the people working below them, or the innocent bystanders that are in the near vicinity.


The Physics Of Drops

People don’t realise the impact forces that are generated in a dropped object. A 3kg item dropped 15m could create an impact force of over 500kg. A 1kg item dropped 50m will hit the ground at a little over 112km/h (excluding any air resistance). Even with some form of protection, the result of being struck by an item of relatively low weight can be significant.

Fall Protection for Tools

Struck-by falling objects is a leading cause of injury for workers and the 4th highest cause of death in the workplace. The 3M™ DBI-SALA® Fall Protection for Tools range has been developed to prevent dropped tools and equipment. Fall Protection for Tools make work environments safer and more productive by drastically reducing incidents resulting in personal injury, equipment damage, and tool loss.

The Fall Protection for Tools range is third-party tested and is ideal for use in applications that involve work being performed at height and anywhere dropped or lost objects are a concern; tools are tethered to prevent them from being dropped.

The range of products includes:

  • Attachment Points
  • Tool Lanyards/Tethers
  • Tool Holsters
  • Tool Belts
  • Tool Pouches
  • Spill Control Buckets
  • Wristbands

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