Reducing the risks of falling tools when working at height

Reducing the risks of falling tools when working at height

Bahco is a supporter of the DROPS training scheme, an initiative with the ambition to combat the risks associated with tools falling from height.

According to the UK’s Health & Safety Executive more than 10 million people are required to work at height during a typical year. Among them are builders and construction industry professionals well aware of the threat, and possible consequences, of hand tools or equipment falling or being dropped from height.

As well as creating a major risk to anyone working or passing below, falling tools can also cause serious damage and expensive down time to vital systems and machinery. Within the tool manufacturing sector, 200 industry organisations address the problem by supporting the global Dropped Object Prevention Scheme (DROPS).

Its members meet in regular forums or focus groups to consider how the threat of falling or dropped tools and equipment can be averted, sharing their findings and recommending best practice across numerous industries.

Bahco, who pioneered anti-drop solutions to assist professionals working at height, is an active member of the DROPS initiative. All Bahco tools and safety equipment intended for use at height are approved according to DROPS practices. Each safety solution for each type of tool is certified and the tool cannot be disassembled.

The primary objective of the Health and Safety Executive’s strict guidelines for working at height has always been to prevent deaths or injuries. Employers and anyone managing any work at height must by law ensure that the task is properly planned, supervised and carried out by competent people.

A hand tool such as a wrench or spanner falling 100m will accelerate to around 80mph before it hits the ground, with a force of impact similar to that of a domestic washing machine being dropped from the same height.

Tethering tools to their users is one of the many precautions which companies require of those working at height. This demands a wide selection of tools which incorporate fixings to enable hand and power tools to be securely tethered to lanyards, tool bags, pouches and belts. It’s not only ideal when using tools but also provides secure tool transportation to the workplace.

Fixings include safety chucks, Kevlar strings or Dyneema strings for screwdrivers, spring connections for wrenches, loops, eye bolts, shackles and safety pins for pliers, hammers and other tools.

Retractable lanyards should be certified, meeting international safety and quality standards. They must be quality tested in both static and dynamic tests in conditions more rigorous and demanding than any likely to be encountered. All lanyards should have universal attachments for tethering tools which do not have any integrated attachment point.

Several types of lanyard are available from specialist suppliers, including carabiner, fixed loop, exchangeable loop, retractable and wrist lanyards.

Carabiner lanyards, manufactured in high tenacity polyester, fully extendable to 120cm, will hold up to 3kg maximum tool weight (3 daN). Its carabiners are non-removable and their high strength webbing and self-retracting inner coils jointly absorb shock.

A wrist lanyard should extend to 60cm, hold up to 1kg weight and feature an exchangeable loop with barrel lock. Additional quick release connections are available but, for safety reasons, locking systems must be compatible only with the specific lanyard they are intended to be used with.

Backpacks allow users to move freely without carrying their tools or tool box by hand. Adjustable shoulder straps and quick release attachments add security. Multiple inner compartments provide four or six hooks for loose connectors, with a maximum tool weight of 3kg per hook.

Designed to make life easier, as well as safer, tool pouches and belts are made from hardwearing 600x600d polyester to resist heavy duty wear and tear. They provide flexible safety solutions, with rings to attach lanyards and hooks to hold tools.

Tony Hudson, a Bahco industrial and trade tools specialist, says: “No responsible trade professional wants to work at height, knowing all its challenges, without feeling confident they can always rely on their safety equipment to protect themselves and others, as well as safeguarding systems and machinery from damage.”


A toolbag tethered to a ladder to guard against tools dropping from height.

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