Fall Protection, Harnesses, Tethering

Fall Protection and Dropped Object Protection Still in Need

Charlene Runge and Brenda White

While the rate of fatalities from falls and being struck by objects for 2017 is lower than the previous year by a small margin, the overall number of deaths from years prior is still up. The sheer number for 2017 is mind boggling, with over five thousand workers killed on the job. Of those that suffered a fatality, 971 workers were in construction and 882 were in distribution which were the top two industries. *BLS, 2017

Breaking down the cause of fatalities, 4.6% of all reported instances across all sectors resulted from being struck by a falling object and 16.9% were caused by a fall. *BLS, 2017

The total financial cost of all those deaths related to falls and falling objects, amounts to $1,015,450,000, according to the National Safety Council for 2017. These numbers are just indicative of fatalities and doesn’t even touch on the number of non-fatal injuries that might result in days away from work—which can also result in a loss of productivity.

Having a primary prevention plan in place would reduce the number of deaths and injuries and thereby reduce the cost associated. A prevention plan would include personal fall protection in the form of harnesses and anchor straps, along with tethers for hand tools and equipment with connectors and anchors. One caveat would be that tools over 5 pounds should never be tethered to a worker.

There is a standard on dropped objects. ANSI/ISEA 121-2018 standard establishes minimum design requirements, performance and labeling for product solutions and testing guidelines. Although this is a voluntary standard, OSHA requires employers to address falling objects/dropped objects in general industry (1910.23; 1910.28) and in construction (1926.451; 1926.501; 1926.759). This requires employers to address the risk of falling objects. OSHA can cite under the General Duty Clause those employers who do not address the subject.

For more information, visit the following: https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/work/costs/work-injury-costs/ and https://www.bls.gov/charts/census-of-fatal-occupational-injuries/fatal-work-injury-counts-by-event-recent-years.htm