OOOOOPS I Dropped It!!
How many times have we said that on a construction, oil & gas, ship building, telecommunication infrastructure or aviation site throughout the US? In 2016 alone, there were 255 fatalities and over 49,000 reported injuries from small parts, structural components and other items that are transferred and used at heights. The BLS (Bureau of labor statistics) has labeled falling objects at height as the third leading cause of injuries on the jobsite. Here is the kicker, it’s not getting any better. Compared to 2015 deaths from falling objects, we went up over 3% and injuries over 6% leading to the conclusion that its time we take a closer look at this problem.
Overall struck-by injuries were up 8.7 percent from 2013 to 2014 and are projected to increase to 9.1 percent by the end of 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (spreadsheet download). Liberty Mutual Insurance alone said it paid out $5.3 billion in workers compensation claims from 2013 to 2014. Workers comp claims don’t include damage to equipment, structures and the environment.
After many years and to many deaths the ISEA and ANSI have come up with a comprehensive standard dealing with dropped objects from heights. ANSI/ISEA 121-2018 addresses four active controls, but doesn’t include any passive controls such as netting, barricades and toe boars. The standard will concentrate on four primary active controls.
Establishing minimum design, performance/testing and labeling requirements for dropped object prevention solutions. For example, test factors for this equipment will be established requiring solutions to be dynamically and/or statically tested using a ratio beyond that of the solution’s stated capacity.
Focus on preventative solutions actively used by workers to mitigate these hazards and establish classification of these solutions. The initial standard will include four classes of solutions:
- Anchor Attachments
Retrofit attachment points installed onto fixed anchor locations like structure or a worker themselves to anchor tool tethers.
- Tool Attachments
Retrofit attachment points installed onto tools and equipment, allowing them to be tethered.
- Tool Tethers
Lanyards that connect tools to an anchor point.
Bags, buckets and pouches that are used to transport tools and equipment to and from at-heights work zones.
Currently there are manufactures of fall protection that have already started selling tethering devises to help you with controlling falling objects. Ergodyne and 3M have led the charge in creating safety devices to tether tools, phones and even have tool bags with special openings to prevent equipment from falling. These simple devices alone can help you create a successful safety program on your jobsites to prevent injuries and even death from falling equipment.
At this point OSHA has not yet adopted the new standard making it a legal requirement. With that being said I would like to finish by providing you all with one very important clause that OSHA has used throughout its existence called……
- OSHA’s General Duty Clause: This clause allows OSHA to refer to other standards, like ANSI/ISEA, to cite employers for not “furnishing” their employees a “place of employment free from recognized hazards.” The “recognition” of those hazards comes in the form of reference to industry standards like ANSI/ISEA as a known best practice.
- Interpretation: It is a myth that OSHA does not say anything about duty to protect against falling objects. In both the General Industry Standard 1910 (Subpart D – Walking Working Surfaces) and the Construction Standard 1926 (Scaffolds 1926.451; Fall Protection 1926.501; Steel Erection 1926.759) OSHA refers to falling objects. With the Standard 121, there will be formalized documentation of better preventative measures that can be implemented beyond hard hats and toe-boards. Interpretation can lead to this equipment becoming preferred.
Written by Mike Kay,
Resource Safety Services, a division of Safety Products Inc