There are the two types of falling objects:
Static Dropped Object – Any object that falls from its previous position under its own weight (gravity) without any applied force. For example: failure caused by corrosion or vibration.
Dynamic Dropped Object – Any object that falls from its previous position due to applied force. For example: collisions involving moving equipment or loads, snagging on machinery, stacked items, dislodged tools or equipment.
Lots of things can contribute to a dropped object incident. It is important to consider these during worksite hazard identification or while developing you Job Safety Analysis. If we fail to take the appropriate precautions, energy sources such as gravity, wind and mechanical motion can start a sequence of events that result in something falling. Statistics show that around 30% of all dropped object incidents are related to design, technical or mechanical issues but almost half can be attributed to human factors.
We cannot simply accept that dropped objects are an inherent hazard of our working environment. Think about tool tethering as an example. When tools are used at height, they can pose a risk to other workers if they are not properly secured to prevent them from falling if they are dislodged from their storage location or dropped while in use. When we use tools while at height they should be properly tethered if they might fall to a lower level where others are working.
Let’s look at an extreme example: In 2008, a NASA astronaut working on the International Space Station allowed a tool pouch to drift out of their reach. The implications were massive: they couldn’t complete the job, they lost an expensive set of tools and they spent hours going back inside for replacement tools. Had they tethered their tools, it would have been a completely different story.
Of course, those tools are not likely to make it back to earth in a way to would create a hazard to you or me. But, the next time you look up, think about all the ways that properly tethering your tools when working at height benefits you and your co-workers.