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Home / SPECIAL REPORTS / Don’t let your workplace become a drop zone

Don’t let your workplace become a drop zone

by CW Guest Columnist on Jun 27, 2016


Capital Safety’s Romain Crouzit explores the associated dangers of dropped tools, and explains how GCC construction outfits can mitigate risk.
Capital Safety’s Romain Crouzit explores the associated dangers of dropped tools, and explains how GCC construction outfits can mitigate risk.

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One of the greatest risks associated with working at height is that of a worker falling. Work at height does, however, pose other inherent risks, the most significant of which is dropped objects.

Of all industries, construction is the one that offers the greatest level of risk from working at height. However, others – such as the oil and gas, and industrial segments, where workers are required to use gantries or overhead equipment for repair and maintenance activities – carry their own levels or risk.

Hand-in-hand with the need to work at height comes the requirement to use various tools and work equipment which, if dropped from height, can have serious consequences. In fact, there is a hidden multiplier that most do not consider, namely that each person working at height typically carries multiple tools with them – often six or more.

Last year, the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recorded an average of 143 incidents of dropped objects per day. OSHA sets out safety regulations that provide a standard for fall protection, dealing with both the human and equipment-related issues involved in protecting workers from fall hazards. These are detailed in ‘Fall Protection in Construction’ (OSHA 3146-05R 2015).

A game of consequences
An object dropped from height can have consequences ranging from minor injuries to fatalities. The most significant consequence, of course, is the trauma caused to individuals and their families. There are also costs to the employer, such as penalties, HSE prosecutions and fines, and loss of reputation. This is aside from the impact on the national economy in terms of working days lost, healthcare provision, welfare benefits, and so on.

Even when dropped tools do no human damage, there can be a financial cost attached to the incident. In a production environment, if tools are dropped from overhead work, the chances of them falling into or hitting machinery are high. This can have major consequences in terms of damaged equipment and loss of production.

Dropped objects in other environments can fall into water, mud, holes, or other difficult-to-reach places. Moreover, their loss can lead to a financial cost to the worker or the employer. And even if dropped tools do make it safely to the ground without causing or incurring damage, one must consider the sheer nuisance factor involved in their retrieval.

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