New Braunfels, TX, September 20, 2023
Working at height presents too many opportunities for dropped object events. One example, antenna platforms that weigh over 100 lbs that are not fully secured can easily become dislodged during the maneuvering of the platform into place causing it to fall. Objects like tools that are not properly secured can easily be dropped and come in contact with workers below. PPE acts as a protection from falling objects but there is no better protection than properly securing tools and minimizing dropped object events in the first place. Todasy we will discuss 3 key points aimed at minimizing dropped object events in our workplace.
First, Know what to tether.
Second, Use the appropriate type of tether.
Third, Communicate when equipment is temporarily secured on a structure.
KNOW WHAT TO TETHER
This key point is rather simple to cover by simply knowing the definition of a dropped object. A dropped object is any item that falls or falls over from its previous position that has the potential to cause injury, death, or equipment/environmental damage. Pretty simple right? When it comes down to it we can find a solution to tether almost anything. Key word there is almost, there are some unique situations that just might not have a solution. For example, bull pins that are used by our tower stacking crews pose a situation that we just have not been able to find a solution for as of this morning. These unique situations are going to require you to engage the safety team to determine the best course of action. In cases we cannot identify a solution you will need to proceed with a heightened sense of focus, and you absolutely do not want to be in a rush. One last item to cover on this point is the securement of items during the process of installation or decommissioning. These tasks can often require you to leave items in a partially secured condition while other portions of the scope are completed. During this process it is critical that we tether any equipment that could accidentally become dislodged and fall. Especially, when we are forced to leave items overnight. The last thing we want to have happen is for nature or gravity to cause items to fall.
USE THE APPROPRIATE TYPE OF TETHER
Since the release of ANSI 121 in 2018 (the industry consensus for dropped objects) there has been a flood of tethering products to hit the market. It is important to know that not all tethers are created equal, that is why we must make sure that we are using the appropriate tethers. All tethers must have a weight rating on them, which is something we need to be aware of and adhere to. Using the appropriate slings and hardware to secure equipment during installation or decommissions tasks ensures that these items will not become a point of failure in adverse conditions. Duct tape and mule tape are not included in the list of appropriate methods for tethering of tools or equipment. Remember that one of our values is nothing homemade, and that certainly applies when choosing the appropriate type of tether and methods of securement.
COMMUNICATE WHEN EQUIPMENT IS TEMPORARILY SECURED ON A STRUCTURE
As previously mentioned, during various tasks that we are assigned we can be forced to leave some items partially secured to structures or laying on platforms after we have stopped for the day. In addition to properly securing these items, we must also communicate to the respective entities that we have a heightened risk for dropped objects that could be hazardous for others after we have left the site. Those respective entities can be all or one of the following depending on your situation: tower owners, customers, building engineers, or property owner POCs. You might even consider putting up caution tape or cones that can let someone know they are entering an area that they need to exercise extra caution in.
Our main key points today covered some of the basic items. Before we close for the day, I want to mention a couple other quick points that we all must keep in mind. In any situation where any type of work is taking place even one foot over your head you must increase your level of focus. Avoid positioning yourself under that work. If you just cannot avoid it, make sure you have your PPE on and avoid looking up. Lastly, if you see a nut, bolt, water bottle, or anything else on a raised platform or on a rooftop that could create a dropped object event, stop work, pick up that item and properly dispose of or secure that item to eliminate the hazard. The few seconds it can take to pick up that item or the couple minutes you spend securing tools and equipment properly will make all the difference!
If you would like more information on this topic or any other safety-related topic, please reach out to the Ontivity safety team at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will get you taken care of.