15 ways to protect construction workers from falling objects
At Vellner Law, P.C., we know that working construction can be a dangerous job. One of the biggest risks to workers is from dropped objects. According to EHS Today, OSHA recorded more than 52,260 incidents of people being struck by falling objects at the workplace – an average of 143 objects striking people each day.
A screwdriver or pair of pliers may not appear dangerous, but when dropped from high above, simple tools can become deadly. An eight-pound wrench dropped 200 feet would strike with a force of 2,833 pounds per square inch. EHS Today cites an incident from New Jersey in which a contractor was killed after being hit by a one-pound tape measure dropped from 50 stories above.
15 ways to protect workers from dropped objects
Employers have a responsibility to take steps to protect workers from dangers at the workplace. EHS Today lists the 15 best practices and solutions construction companies can follow to help protect workers from dropped objects:
- Expand fall protection programs to include tools and equipment.
- Provide a competent person to manage the expanded the programs.
- Raise awareness of drop hazard identification and mitigation techniques within the workforce.
- Require risk assessments before performing work with drop hazards.
- Consider regularly scheduled "hazard hunts" to drive awareness of drop hazards.
- Consider using tethered tools.
- Consider using energy-absorbing lanyards, which will reduce the force associated with the dropped tool.
- Tools that weigh more than five pounds should never be tied-off to a person.
- If a worker has a tool attached and needs to pass it off to a colleague, that colleague can connect to the tool before the passing worker disconnects from it.
- Employees should be properly trained on how to use tethered tools.
- As a best practice, workers at height should only bring up the tools they need to do their job.
- Hoist up items and then transfer them over with different lanyards to the workers themselves or to static anchor points.
- There are many buckets, bags and pouches available on the market with closure systems to dramatically reduce the likelihood of items falling out.
- Use toe boards capable of withstanding a force of at least 50 pounds in any downward or outward motion.
- Debris nets are another secondary solution and provides a way to catch dropped objects.
What should I do if I’m hurt by a falling object at the workplace?
If you are injured by a falling object on the job, the first thing you need to do is get medical attention. It doesn’t matter if you don’t think you’re hurt that badly. A doctor needs to examine you and treat your injuries. Seeing a doctor also provides documentation for your medical condition.
You also need to notify your employer within 120 days that you have been injured at work. Your employer is then required to file a workers’ compensation claim on your behalf with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.