Are 'dropped objects' really the second highest cause of fatalities in the industry?

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Height Safety in operation...what about the tools?

Unfortunately that’s dead right…..in statistics released by Safe Work Australia, falling objects have been identified as the second highest cause of fatalities in the workplace between 2010 and 2014.

This sobering fact has highlighted the need for all height workers to freshly consider their methods for controlling the hazard of dropped objects and implement new procedures that will change these statistics into the future.

THE STATISTICS:

Between 2010 and 2014 dropped objects caused:

  • 125 workplace fatalities
  • 15,410 Serious Workers Compensations Claims

(A serious claim is an accepted workers’ compensation claim that involves one or more weeks away from work).

Source: Safe Work Australia Traumatic Injury Fatalities, 2010 to 2014.

Source: National Data Set for Compensation-Based Statistics, Safe Work Australia.

DO THEY REALLY HIT THAT HARD?

When does a simple tool change to a projectile containing dynamic and lethal energy?

The dynamics surrounding dropped tools can be easily underestimated, however recent studies have further highlighted the deadly nature of falling objects.

  • 220g spanner dropped 23m hits with 50kg - That’s a full tool box!
  • 2kg wrench dropped 6m hits with 117kg - That’s a cement mixer!

Needless to say Hard Hats are of very little consequence when an object carrying this kind of energy makes impact.

DEFLECTION….?

It is also necessary to note that falling objects don’t just fall straight down. Research has shown a 3.7kg tool falling from a 22 Storey building and hitting a bar 6m off the ground can deflect up to 127m, reaching a top speed of over 130km/h! Drop zones and traditional barricading methods are largely rendered ineffective in this type of scenario.

WHY TOOL HEIGHT SAFETY MATTERS – THE LAW

The Legislation – Managing the Risks of Falling Objects

In response to the alarming statistics, Dropped Object legislation was introduced in the ‘Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011, regulation 55 – Minimising risk associated with falling objects.’

Safe Work Australia also released a ‘Falling Objects Fact Sheet’ in 2012. As stated on the Australian Governments website www.comcare.gov.au, ‘A person conducting a business or undertaking at a workplace must manage risks to health and safety associated with an object falling on a person if the falling object is reasonably likely to injure the person.’

This legislation clearly puts the onus on PCBU’s (employers) to provide all employees with adequate protection from the hazards presented by falling objects. However despite these guidelines and the clear legal implications, the current statistics indicate that in far too many cases adequate measures are not being taken. 

THE CHALLENGES FACED BY INDUSTRY

The challenges to industry posed by these requirements are very real and tend to make it difficult for tool drop prevention polices and procedure to be implemented. Some of the most common concerns and reasons for hesitancy are listed below:

Culture: Tool drop prevention has tended to be overlooked in many industries and is possibly not as easy to comprehend as some of the more recognised industrial hazards. Consequences of dropped objects are not as straight forward as the dangers of from falling from height and additional education at all levels is necessary.

Lack of risk awareness: Most of us have lived with the risk of falling objects on work sites all of our lives. This may have tended to build an attitude of complacency however statistics are clearly showing that this is a very dangerous outlook with potentially deadly consequences.

Restricted tool functionality: Historically many drop prevention devices have inhibited tool functionality and therefore affected job performance. If attachments are obstructive and reduce productivity, workers may well discard them.

Tool diversity: The vast range of tools that are used at height provides a very challenging environment for a drop prevention policy to be implemented. A ‘one size fits all’ approach does not tend to be sustainable and will invariably gain little acceptance.

THE SOLUTION FOR TOOL HEIGHT SAFETY

As a specialist supplier to many of the world’s largest construction, energy and resource projects and facilities, the goal of Technique Solutions is to change todays dropped object statistics.

Having partnered with global experts, Technique Solutions has built a ‘best practise’ Tool Drop Prevention System that meets the following requirements:

  • That is innately adaptable to 95% of hand tools
  • Takes only minutes to apply and does not require technical expertise
  • Does not require tools to be mechanically modified or damaged in any way
  • Provides a fully certified and load rated system for industry
  • Provides a viable avenue for companies to become aligned with Drop Object Prevention legislation

 

LET’S GET STARTED

If you would like to further discuss the hazard of dropped objects, book in an on-site demonstration or receive a free awareness pack please do not hesitate to be in contact.

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