How can we deal with dropped object hazards on our job site?

By Henry Skjerven | Published: May 2, 2019
Presented by Ergodyne

The ANSI/ISEA 121-2018 standard "establishes minimum design, performance, testing, and labeling requirements for solutions that reduce dropped objects incidents in industrial and occupational settings."

Since you're asking this question, I'll assume that your organization does work at heights that require fall protection. In that case, your safety practitioner needs to do four things to start dealing with dropped object hazards.

  1. Get a copy of the Standard for your safety library, and review the document to gain a working understanding of what ANSI/ISEA focuses on in terms of prevention solutions to mitigate this hazard
  2. Communicate the need for compliance throughout the organization, and ensure that everyone involved gains a working understanding of the standard and what is involved
  3. Make this new standard part of your overall fall protection and working-at-heights program element – review your existing program with an eye to identifying spots where additional dropped object work will need to be done
  4. See whether you need to update your inventory to include the tool attachments, tool tethers, securing containers, and anchor attachments covered by the standard

(Learn more about The 3 T's of Dropped Object Prevention.)

Develop a Project Plan

The simplest approach is to develop a project plan, including implementation and performance review. The following short task list is high level and general in nature, but it can get you started.

  • Communicate the change within the organization
  • Discuss and obtain buy-in
    or support and approval from senior management, your safety committees, unions, and other work associations
  • Draft a "straw basket" project plan and establish timelines
  • Update your fall protection policy and all procedure documentation, including forms, safety moments, and field level risk assessments
  • Identify and document all dropped object hazards and tasks
  • Update equipment inventory, focusing on equipment currently used that meets or exceeds the standard
  • Determine what equipment will need to be purchased or changed out with tools and equipment that will meet the standard
  • Update all fall protection training and education, inspection, and performance management documentation and systems to include dropped objects and ANSI/ISEA 121-2018
  • Update bid documents and explain this change to estimators, as there may be additional costs that are passed on to clients
  • Drive the change through your contractors, subcontractors, and your contract documentation by making it clear that complying with the best practices put forth by the standard is a requirement within your organization
  • Implement enforcement and recognition practices
  • Troubleshoot change management issues
  • Manage the supply chain – work with your warehouse, purchasing department, suppliers, manufacturers, and distributors to obtain the best understanding of equipment needs, and the best price point for your purchases

Final Thought

Organizations that do work at heights have systems in place for fall protection. It's my belief that this new standard will become an integral part of those work practices. So, take a very close look at how you are already doing things and figure out what changes or additions may be required to make sure that objects at height stay where they belong.

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Written by Henry Skjerven

Henry Skjerven

Mr. Skjerven has consulted professionally for over 27 years, with extensive Canadian experience, literally from coast to coast but with a home base in Western Canada. His experience ranges from marketing, adult education, and heavy transportation (rail) to municipal public works, fleet and transportation, oil and gas construction in the tar sands, emergency response (Fire and Ambulance), Public Works, Parks and Recreation, Security, as well as human resources and software systems, including enterprise style projects.

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