Falling objects, such as work materials and tools, present a serious safety concern whenever work is done overhead or in an elevated location. This hazard is commonly forgotten until a near miss or injury serves as a stark reminder.
The solution is simple: Be proactive and “Stop the Drop”. Simple passive and active safety measures can minimize the risk of falling objects and protect workers below. Several of these are listed below. But first, it’s important to understand how quickly seemingly harmless falling objects accelerate to deadly speeds.
Falling Object Statistics
- A solid object dropped from 64 feet will hit the ground in 2 seconds at a speed of 43.8 miles per hour.
- The same object dropped at 106 feet will hit the ground in 3 seconds at a speed of 65.8 miles per hour.
- A 2-ounce pen dropped from 230 feet has the potential to penetrate a hardhat.
Tips for Preventing Falling Object Injuries
- Use tool lanyards to prevent tools from falling.
- Keep all material at least 3 feet from a leading edge, other than material specifically required for work in process.
- Remove items from all loose or unsealed pockets, especially top shirt pockets, such as phones, pens, and tools.
- Do not hang objects over guardrails.
- Secure all objects when working on an elevated surface.
- Ensure toe boards are in place and inspected frequently
- Require hard hats and other required personal protective equipment (PPE) for every person in areas at risk for falling objects—no exceptions.
- Rope off the area, if possible, where fall or drop hazards may exist.
- Inspect all PPE prior to use to confirm it still meets manufacturers’ recommendations.
- Communicate often. Work as a team to avoid complacency and remain vigilant of these procedures at all times.
Visit OSHA.gov for more information about general industry and construction-specific regulations regarding falling object injuries.
In August 2014, ModSpace instituted a “Stop the Drop” policy to prevent injuries from falling items. Workers must adhere to the above safety parameters and team leaders are tasked with constant reinforcement of these guidelines.
After more than 20 years in the industry, I encourage every company, large and small, to adopt their own Stop the Drop policy to prevent injuries from falling objects.