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Drop Test

Last updated: August 27, 2019

What Does Drop Test Mean?

A drop test is a test designed to examine the structural integrity of a product.

Drop tests usually involve an object being dropped from a predefined height onto a second object or surface. The object being tested can be either the dropped object or the object/surface that an object is being dropped on to.

Safeopedia Explains Drop Test

If the dropped object is what’s being tested, its ability to withstand a specific amount of physical impact is measured by dropping it from a given height onto a standardized hard surface such as cement. If the surface being dropped onto is what's being tested, its ability to withstand a specific amount of impact force is measured by dropping a standardized amount of weight and mass (often a sandbag) onto it from a defined height. The former type of test is commonly used to ensure the safety of portable hazards such as chemical containers, while the latter is used to ensure the effectiveness of fall protection systems (such as safety nets) and to identify any surfaces that may present fall hazards.

In the context of occupational safety, drop tests are most often used to demonstrate the efficacy of a fall protection product, both by the product manufacturer and by the employer installing the product on the work site. Safety nets meet jurisdictional standards by demonstrating that they can withstand the weight of a sandbag or other standardized object falling from a specific height. This drop test is designed to mimic the impact of a human falling onto the net. For safety line testing, a sandbag of a specific weight is tied to the safety line and released from height in a manner designed to show the line can support a falling worker. Guardrail structures are also commonly tested using drop tests to verify the top rail’s ability to support the 200-pound loading requirements of OSHA’S Fall Protection Standards.

Specific potentially fragile working surfaces, such as skylights and other glass barriers, may also be rated for safety by dropping a sandbag directly onto them to ensure that they will not shatter if a worker accidentally falls onto them. These tests, along with drop tests to ensure the safety of hazardous material testing, are often performed under laboratory conditions by certified testing institutions—such as the UK Health and Safety Laboratory—in order to provide a recognized certification of a product’s quality.

In the workplace itself, employers have obligations to perform drop tests confirming that their installation of recognized fall safety equipment has been successful. For instance, OSHA requires that safety net installations be tested by dropping a 400-pound sandbag of 28-32 inches in diameter from the highest surface at which employees are exposed to fall hazards.


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