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 ensure safety from falling objects, understanding the primary causes of incidents can help conduct thorough risk assessments before commencing a job. According to Drops Online, the following reasons are the top ten causes of falling object incidents in the workplace.
Procedures and Systems
- Inadequate Risk Assessment – A pre-assessment to identify potential hazards is often crucial and can prevent the risk of an incident occurring. A risk assessment can identify potential energy sources, catalogue tools and equipment required for the job, and create a heightened awareness amongst staff about the potential dangers of falling objects
- Lack of Planning – In addition to risk assessments, very often a management of change process isn’t in place to identify and control risk from changes occurring at the workplace that may create new and unidentified areas of risk
- Previous Jobs – A previous job conducted on the work site, can leave behind tools, loose objects and equipment that current job staff are unaware of. Unidentified, these can pose unexpected risk
- Inadequate repairs and Inspections – Schedules times for inspections and maintenance repairs can help identify corrosion, damages, wear and tear as well as structural and equipment faults or damage before they become a falling object risk
Tools, Equipment and Structural Faults
- Failed Fixtures and Fittings – Poor design, corrosion, vibration, incorrect selection and implementation of fixtures and fittings can all lead to failure. Failed fixtures and fittings can and will often dislodge itself and fall from place, if not inspected.
- Damaged Tools & Equipment – Improvised or home-made tools, equipment that is uncertified, or even damaged tools and equipment from previous jobs and incidents can fail or break unexpectedly. Timely inspection and replacement before each job can reduce this risk
- Loose Objects – Manual Tools, Hand tools, Debris, Communication and writing equipment that is unsecured or untethered can be accidentally dropped
- Environmental Conditions – Wind, Sea motion, Rain, Mud, Heat and Sand can all change work conditions dramatically particularly on Oil Rigs, Mines and working at Heights compromising stability of tools, equipment and the structure
- Collisions and Snagging – Lifting, Moving Equipment and Tag Lines can all cause snagging or collision and the impact can create debris, or breakage
- Human Error – Inadequate training or awareness of hazards, operator error, complacency, neglect and lack of reporting SOPs can result in compromised safety. Toolbox sessions including an outline of falling object hazards and schedules training or reporting can help reduce this risk
Pryme in partnership with leading Dropped Objects Prevention product manufacturer Ergodyne have a comprehensive range of tool tethering, tool storage and tool organisation solutions to help keep workplaces safer from falling objects. Contact us now to see how we can work with you.