Did you know that statistics of safety violations issued for the lack of fall protection include tools? The probability of dropping tools is extremely high, and when it happens high up on a scaffold, even a small piece of equipment can cause death. Imagine a small car striking an area of one square inch -- the force would be similar to an eight-pound wrench that drops from a height of 200 feet. It would hit the ground -- or anything in its way -- with a 2,833-pound per square inch force.
One tragic accident involving construction workers that underscores the dangers of falling tools occurred in a state neighboring New York. A trucking company used an independent contractor to make a delivery at a construction site. A deliveryman was leaning into a car while speaking to someone, and as he pulled back from the window, a tape measure weighing one pound struck him in the head. A worker who was 50 stories above the ground dropped it accidentally. The deliveryman did not survive the incident.
A change of perspective is necessary
The threat of an accident that the force of gravity has on people working at heights is the same as the threat it has on the tools used by those workers. A securely tied off safety harness can protect you from harm in the event of a fall. Using a similar system to tie off the tools you use can protect others from harm. Furthermore, your natural reaction when you drop a tool might be to try to grab it, and this could result in you losing your balance.
Guidelines that could prevent tools from falling
Fall protection equipment for every type of equipment or tool is available. However, employers must provide proper training in how to use it. Here are some pointers to show how to prevent the danger associated with falling tools:
- When tying off tools to points on your clothing, such as a tool belt or wristband, make sure the lanyard does not interfere when you use the tool.
- Companies must ensure that tools are equipped with d-rings, cinch attachments, self-vulcanizing tape or other attachment methods to prevent compromising the functionality of the tool if you have to modify it.
- Never secure a piece of equipment or tool that weighs more than 5 pounds to a point on your clothing. You must always tether tools of that size to fixed structures or anchor points on the site.
- Take note of the tether's load rating because an anchor point rated to secure a two-pound tool will not prevent a five-pound tool from falling.
If you are suffering the consequences of a construction injury, you are entitled to pursue financial help through the workers' compensation insurance system of New York. Although you can navigate the claims process on your own, you may find comfort in knowing that you can seek the support and guidance of an experienced workers' compensation attorney. A skilled lawyer can handle the administrative and legal proceedings while working to get you maximum coverage of medical expenses, lost wages and any other benefits to which you might be entitled.