Although a tool falling from any height is a problem, when it falls several hundred feet, equipment and personnel below are in considerable danger.
The worker who dropped the tool endangers everything and everyone below him. It is a site safety issue. Even a screwdriver that hits someone after being dropped just ten feet is going to cause serious injury. A larger, free-falling tool, such as a cordless drill, could kill someone. That injured employee is going to cost his company money in lost productivity, workmen’s compensation claims, medical bills and, depending on the circumstances, the possibility of a lawsuit. Morale also becomes an issue anytime someone is injured on the job.
The threat of injury is not the only serious problem. Equipment and machinery can also be severely damaged, sometimes beyond repair, from a falling tool. A relatively small wrench could cause severe damage to the fuselage or wings of an airplane as it bounces off the plane the whole way down. Whether it’s hitting something as expensive and sensitive as the skin of an airplane, or landing on a pump or bearing, a falling tool is going to create costly damage every time.
Tethering Safety: Use appropriate lanyards and tethers for each application.
Obviously the objective of tethering is to secure tools to prevent injury and damage to people and equipment below… but there are factors that may impact the safety of the worker using the tether or lanyard. An improperly mated tool and lanyard can inherently lead to reduced productivity and exposure to injury. When the tethering device limits mobility, recoils too fast or exerts too much resistance upon extension, backlash from workers is often the result. Generally the result is fatigue, annoyance and often non-compliance in the use of the lanyard.
- DON’T ever use a tether with lower weight limits than the tool being tethered.
- DON’T tether a tool that exceeds 10-lbs to a person.
- DON’T tether a tool to a person without verifying the impact on the persons “Personal Fall Protection” (PFP) devices.
- DON’T attach a tool tether to a structure without verifying the strength and shock-load capability of the anchor point.
- DON’T use tethers or lanyards that require excessive force for full extension. (The result will be reduced worker output and possible muscle injury.)
- DON’T modify the tool lanyard in anyway (replacement of tool lanyard components such as carabiner clips, side release disconnect clips or removal of shock absorbing components may impact the load-rating of the lanyard).
- DON’T customize the tool lanyard with hardware that does not have the appropriate load ratings for the tool. (i.e. Key rings are often considered for use as an attachment point to a tool, but typically these will not work for tools weighing more than 1-lb).
- DON’T assume that a tool tether is a foolproof device.
- DON’T use a tool lanyard as a PFP lanyard.
- DON’T use tool tethers in situations where machinery entanglement is a concern, most tool tethers will not breakaway against the weight of a person.
- DO verify the integrity of a tether prior to use looking for indications of excessive wear or fatigue. (If in question, replace the tether.)
- DO always use a lanyard that is rated properly for the tool weight providing that the lanyard is designed with a 25% additional margin for a full extension drop.
- DO verify the tools attachment point to ensure that it is strong enough to hold the tool for the full drop distance of the tether.
- DO weigh tools so that a properly rated lanyard is used for the application (never assume the weight of a tool just by feel).
- DO use a quick release tether when a group of small tools are being used.
- DO use a retractable tether to avoid entanglement issues when multiple tethers are needed.
- DO anchor all tools weighing more than 10-lb to a structure, not a person.
- DO use lanyards that have very low stretch force at full extension so long as they have the proper degree of recoil for the tool and application.
- DO transfer shock loads from a person to a structure whenever possible.
- DO always check with a qualified safety professional if in doubt.
A free “Safety Engineer’s Guide to Tool Tethering” 16-page guide will help safety professionals choose tethers that increase site and personal safety without impeding employee productivity.
The new guide contains the industry’s most complete selection of ergonomically designed personal and anchored tool tethers and lanyards that reduce worker fatigue. The “Guide” will help the safety engineer find tethers that add convenience to the user and are specifically appropriate for the task and the work environment. Equally important, Gear Keeper’s tethers and lanyards are dynamically load tested for the tool weight specified with weight ratings that have built-in safety margins beyond the break point to handle the shock load of a dropped tool.
An illustrated “how to” reference is included in the Guide. It shows how even seemingly un-tetherable tools can be safely tethered. The multi-page section titled “How to attach lanyards to tools that don’t have attachment points,” contains over 50 demonstration photos. They illustrate the guide’s tool attachment “how-to” theories such as Swivel Connection Tools, Slip vs. Non-Slip Connections and Attaching Tools With Minimal Geometry. There is also a section covering non-slip, swivel connections for small hand tools that solves the problem of tethering commonly used tools such as screw drivers, pliers, hammers and others that lack the necessary geometry or don’t have built-in attachment points required for tethering.
Over fifty proprietary products, including many new additions are in the new “Guide.” These include a retractable tool tether that can secure a 3.5 lb portable drill, an anchored tool tether that creates an 18-foot working area but retracts to only 42 inches, a 2-axis belt clip that rotates in any direction for ultimate dexterity and a series of lightweight, general purpose retractors for securing small items and micro-tools.
Covered in the guide are workplace considerations such as; tethers for working in confined quarters or climbing; tethers that allow for quick interchangeability of tools and tethers designed to anchor a heavy tool to a structure instead of a person. Even tethers for other common workplace objects such as hard hats, security cards, cell phones and more are covered in the guide.
According to John Salentine, VP of Hammerhead Industries, “the new Safety Engineer’s Guide to Tool Tethering is the first document of its kind. It is a major step forward in helping safety engineers properly tether tools.” Salentine added, “This information will make every employee and their work site safer and more efficient.”