7 ways to prevent falling objects on site

Materials, tools, bits and pieces left in pockets – all of these have the potential to cause a fatal accident if dropped, pulled or nudged from a great enough height. Here are a couple of scenarios in which every day and job-specific articles can cause some serious damage when allowed to free fall:

Object: Smart phone
Weight: 138g

A smart phone weighing around 138 grams is not going to do much harm when dropped from the top of a three storey building. If anyone struck below is wearing a hard hat, they’ll avoid some bruising, and the biggest casualty will be the phone.

But imagine if that same phone belonged to a crane operator working at 700 ft. If the same phone fell from an open window, the drop would allow it to gather speeds of up to 144 mph by the time it hit the ground, or worse, someone on the ground.

That’s faster than a high-speed train in the UK, and would inevitably be fatal to anyone struck.

This is an extreme example, as you would hope nobody operating at such a height would have anything that could fall so close to an open window. But construction site workers use plenty of tools and materials which are far heavier than everyday objects, which don’t need such a height to cause a severe injury or even death.

Object: Electric cable
Weight: 1kg

Dropping a 1kg piece of electric cable from the same three storey building at an approximate height of 30 feet can cause a major injury, or Lost Time Incident (LTI). This means a day away from work beyond the shift on which the incident occurred, at least. One storey up and this drop could also be fatal.

7 ways to prevent falling objects on site

1. Ensure that everyone working or visiting any areas where falling objects could present a risk are wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), including hard hats. PPE should be regularly inspected to make sure it meets required safety standards.

2. If possible, cordon off areas where falling objects could present a hazard, such as at the base of a crane.

3. Tether tools using tool lanyards when using them at a height.

4. Empty unsealed pockets of phones, pens and tools before beginning any work at a height.

5. When not using materials needed for the work, keep them well away from the surface edge so they can’t be knocked or blown off.

6. Secure any other objects when working off the ground and never hang them on guardrails.

7. Communicate work processes often and remind everyone of safety procedures to avoid complacency and misinformation.

Employers’ liability insurance is there to support you in the event that one of your workers comes into harm’s way. While £5 million is the legal minimum requirement for a business, most insurance companies offer £10 million, but depending on your operations, you may want to extend this further.

The Chartered brokers at Hine Insurance can offer independent guidance on your insurance requirements. Contact us on 0161 438 0000 for more information.

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