Why You Need an Effective Tool Tethering Policy

Tool Tethering, tool tethering safety

Stop getting struck by falling objects or losing the tools you need to get the job done - start a tool tethering policy!

Working at height involves some obvious safety concerns – namely falls. Yet, while most people think of workers falling, the reality is that falls can include people and objects like tools. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, every year, more than 50,000 “struck by falling objects” OSHA recordable injuries. 

Tool tethering is the practice of securing an object to a worker or other anchor point to prevent the object from falling. It’s a critical practice for anyone working four feet or higher above the ground, elevated above a coworker or sensitive objects, moving equipment to and from raised areas, or otherwise required by the safety supervisor.

With a tool tethering policy, you can eliminate struck-by-falling object injuries and keep tools in the hands of your workers. Additionally, a good tool tethering policy can affect your bottom line. Fewer dropped tools mean less money spent on replacing them.

Post tool tethering signs and labels around the work environment to enforce your safety message.

Dropped tool prevention is not just smart business on your job site - it's now recognized as a best practice. ANSI/ISEA 121-2018: The American National Standard for Dropped Object Prevention Solutions aims to reduce workplace accidents, injuries, and deaths related to falling objects. By requiring dropped object prevention (DOP) solutions to go through dynamic drop testing, serious injuries are being eliminated. If the DOP device being tested prevents a drop, it passes, but it fails if the tool tethering device breaks.

Stop the drop-secure tools when working at height

OSHA requires that if you work in an environment where you’re at risk of being hit by something that falls, you must:

  • Secure tools and materials to prevent them from falling on people below
  • Barricade hazard areas and post warning signs
  • Use toe boards, screens on guardrails, or scaffolds to prevent falling objects.
  • Use debris nets, catch platforms, or canopies to catch or deflect falling objects.

OSHA can use the General Duty Clause to cite companies when dropped objects have caused injuries or are hazardous. In some cases, companies have even fired employees if they drop something while working from above.

Follow safety first guidelines when performing overhead work:
  • Edge protection (toe boards) must be in place
  • Do not prop or stand tools against the structure
  • Do not throw tools or objects up to/or down to workers
  • Install safety netting or blankets over Kennedy grating
  • Practice good housekeeping

Safety is essential in any profession but keeping construction workers safe is paramount. Inadvertently dropping the tools or equipment you’re using while working at raised levels can be as deadly as randomly shooting a bullet into the air. Something as simple as a tape measure that weighs one pound could kill someone if it drops hundreds of feet to the ground.

You can prevent serious injuries from dropped tools by effectively communicating your safety policy on your job site!