St. Paul, Minnesota, — Despite a rapid increase in available tool tethering solutions and hundreds of annual work-related deaths caused by falling objects as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), large-scale adoption of tool tethering has yet to take hold on U.S. worksites according to work safety advocate and personal protective equipment (PPE) manufacturer, Ergodyne.
“Unfortunately, accidents and near-misses involving dropped tools and equipment continue to be the call to action for a lot of companies when it comes to tool tethering,” says Nate Bohmbach, Product Director, Ergodyne.
With the announcement of its latest suite of dropped object prevention solutions, the company that first introduced tool tethering solutions to elevated workspaces in the late 2000s continues to evangelize active prevention to compliment and fortify other common and long-standing safety measures for addressing dropped and falling objects.
“Since the invention of the hard hat over one hundred years ago, the danger represented by dropped and falling objects on the job has, for the most part, been addressed with PPE or passive controls,” says Tom Votel, President and CEO, Ergodyne. “This includes toe boards, netting and barricades.”
“Obviously we’re proponents of those, too,” says Votel. “But our perspective has been, and continues to be, why not prevent tools from falling in the first place?”
“It [tool tethering] is becoming more and more commonplace, certainly,” says Bohmbach. “But we still see a lot of makeshift solutions like duct tape and rope to tie off tools. Of course, that’s in the instance where any active control to prevent dropped tools is even being considered…which, more times than not, it isn’t.”
While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) doesn’t specifically mention tool tethering, it does require employers to protect workers from dropped objects in several standards including the agency’s General Duty Cause, a catch-all recognizing an employer’s responsibility to protect workers from hazards that might not necessarily be addressed by a specific standard.
Employers can be cited for violation of the General Duty Clause if a recognized hazard—such as dropped or falling objects—exists in the workplace and the employer does not take reasonable steps to prevent or abate the hazard.
In 2018, Bohmbach, as chair of the International Safety Equipment Association’s (ISEA) dropped object prevention group, worked with leading PPE manufacturers in helping draft a standard adopted by ANSI (American National Standards Institute) addressing active controls for drops prevention. Titled “ANSI/ISEA 121, American National Standard for Dropped Object Prevention Solutions”, the standard formally recognizes tool tethering as best practice while establishing design, performance and labeling requirements for solutions that prevent dropped objects—including tool lanyards, tool attachments, anchor attachments and containers used to transport tools and equipment to and from at-heights work zones.
Ergodyne’s latest release of at-heights solutions touches on all four areas of focus and includes:
Squids® 3178 Locking Aerial Bucket Hook
Featuring a self-locking hook, an interior hook and an enclosed tethering point to save space and prevent dropped objects when working in cramped buckets. The self-locking outer hook with thumb release is designed for ease of use while providing the utmost security for tool storage and tethering.
Squids® Anchor Choke Straps
Threads through railings, scaffolding, equipment and structures to create a retrofit attachment point for tethering tools from 5-60lbs // 2.3-27kgs.
Squids® Anchor Strap/Belt Loop
Easily attaches to tools, belts, harness or structures to create a retrofit attachment point for tethering tools up to 5lbs // 2.26kg.
Squids® 3151 Coil Lanyard and Mini Adhesive Mounts Kit
Featuring a swivel hook on one end, a low-profile detachable loop on the other and three double-sided mounting pads to safely tether devices and accessories up to 2lbs // 0.5kg and stay out of the way to reduce snag or tangle hazards.
All are tested to ANSI/ISEA 121, apart from the 3151 Coil Lanyard & Mini Adhesive Mounts Kit, which is meant to be an accessory lanyard/attachment combination for tethering lightweight essentials like cellphones weighing no more than 2lbs / 0.9kg.
Though not an enforceable regulatory standard, ANSI/ISEA 121 sets an important precedent that lays the groundwork for an eventual OSHA mandate.
“Federal standards aren’t created with a snap of the finger,” concedes Bohmbach. “But, yes… the hope is it creates a base to build an eventual federal standard… but that could be 10 years from now.”
“So, we’ll continue to beat the drum of active drops prevention with tool tethering and transport systems that not only keep workers safer, but ultimately more productive, too.” Ergodyne
To learn more, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-225-8238 // (651) 642-9889.
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