In the report, Key Work Health and Safety Statistics, Australia 2014, published by Safe Work Australia, deaths from falling objects have increased from 18 in 2009-10 to 30 as of 2011-12. The alarming rise in deaths from falling objects place Safety Professionals under more pressure to control falling object hazards. Controlling hazards caused by falling objects are compounded by the range of potential hazards from lifting operations, to hand held tools and equipment coupled with the propensity for human error.
Controlling all the factors that can lead to a falling object requires a comprehensive program for both large and small objects. Large falling object hazards may arise from building structures, large objects stored at heights, lifting operations, transfer and removal of materials. While many falling object programs control large objects at heights, for smaller objects used by workers, such as hand held tools and equipment, controls are not as widely known.
Small objects such as PPE, portable communication equipment, materials, parts and tools can all become a potential falling hazard if proper controls are not in place. Even a 1kg spanner dropped from a height of 4 metres will hit the ground travelling at over 30km/hr. Therefore, acceleration of a falling object needs to be something to be concerned about. A small falling object can damage property or tools, increase lost time recovering or replacing tools, and in the worst cases cause injury or fatality.
In the publication, “Managing the Risk of Falls at Workplaces: Code of Practice”, Regulation 34-38 of the Workplace Health and Safety Act 2011, requires employers to implement controls to minimise risks so far as is reasonably practicable. Although this is the case, the Code does little in the way to account for hazards posed by small falling objects. In contrast, Safe Work Australia’s “Falling Objects Fact Sheet” does provide some guidance to control small falling object hazards, for example requiring all tools and materials be tethered or otherwise secured while working at heights.
To help employers manage risks associated with small falling objects, safety and wellness solutions provider Pryme has partnered with specialist safety technology developer Ergodyne® and HSE Consultants, to develop a best practice Small Falling Objects Prevention Program. The program consists of a number of materials from risk assessment, to toolbox training sessions, policies and procedures coupled with guides to aid in the selection of the latest in falling object prevention technologies to build your program.
“Pryme’s Squids® Ergodyne Tool lanyards range allows workers to secure tools with a number of attachment options ranging from heavy-duty self-locking carabiners and barrel locks, to quick connect buckles. We also offer Squids® grabbers which are designed to hold gloves, rags, caps, water bottles and more close at hand items.”