The most important assets on any job site are the people, which is why safety always needs to be an integral part of your day-to-day operations. This is especially true for anyone involved in the construction industry. Although the sector comprises only about 7% of provincial employment, it’s where roughly 30% of all work-related fatalities occur in Ontario.

Working at height involves many safety concerns, including falling workers or objects such as tools or building materials. Small tools or pieces of material lying around the site may seem harmless, but the effects of those items falling from a high level can be devastating.

Dropped objects at height is the third largest cause of workplace fatalities around the world, over 400 lost-time injuries each year are caused by falling objects. The frequency of these injuries is not the only problem – it’s also the severity. A dropped object can hit an individual with incredible force as it gains momentum from a fall. Workers who are struck by falling objects suffer minor bruises, strains, and sprains, but also critical injuries such as fractures, concussions, psychological trauma, or other injuries resulting in death.

The graph below shows the potential consequence of a dropped object and is a useful reference when considering risk assessment in your workplace.

 Classification-Dropped-Objects-Potential-Consequences

Current best practice protective measures simply do not do enough. A hard hat or thick netting may not provide enough protection if the object is heavy enough or dropped from a great height.

In Canada, there are currently no laws or legislation that regulates safety standards for objects at height. However, Canada’s Occupational Safety and Health Regulations recommends tool tethering as an effective strategy to protect workers from falling objects.

Tool Tethering Improves Safety When Working at Height

Tool tethering is a simple solution that can minimize safety risk. Most safety techniques do not stop tools from falling, but instead try to minimize the damage done by installing netting, toe boards, and edge protection, or by wearing hard hats. Tool tethering gets to the root of the problem by preventing objects from being dropped in the first place.

Keep reading to learn more about how tool tethering can improve safety on your job site.

What is Tool Tethering and How Does it Improve Workplace Safety?

Tool tethering is a technique that prevents tools from falling or being dropped by attaching tools to the operator or to a fixed anchor point.

A comprehensive tethering system has three distinct components:

Tether Point

Although most tools do not come with a safe and secure spot for a tool lanyard, tether points are attachments that can be retrofitted to any tool without causing damage, invalidating the warranty of the tool, or hindering its performance. Having a secure tether point is key for maintaining the structural integrity of the tether.

Tool Lanyard

The tool lanyard is the middle-point of the tethering system, connecting the tether to the anchor. Different equipment, tasks, and environments require varied types of tool lanyards, including bungee, coiled, retractable, wire, or non-conductive tool lanyard designs. Assess your tools and your needs to determine which design is most appropriate for you and your job site. Keeping several types and lengths on hand will ensure you are always prepared to use your tools safely and without difficulty.

Anchor Point

The anchor point of your tether needs to be as robust as the rest of the system. Lighter tools can easily be secured to a harness, work belt, or wristband worn by the worker. For heavier tools, a strong, fixed point on a rail or beam makes a great anchor.

How Tool Tethering Improves Safety

Current steps taken to mitigate the risk of falling objects, such as netting, toe boards, and edge protection, do not stop objects from falling, but instead attempt to reduce the damage the falling object causes when it does fall. Tool tethering, on the other hand, is a three-point proactive approach that prevents objects from falling.

Your journey to zero drops per year may be easier than you think. For more information about tool tethering and how it can improve the safety of your jobsite, feel free to contact us.


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