Should I tether my tools even when no one is working underneath me?

Q:

Should I tether my tools even if no one is working underneath me?

A:

The temptation to shirk the tether whenever possible is understandable. That said, the answer is still always going to be “yes.” You should always tether your tools when working at height.

While the risk of injuring someone with falling tools should always be on your mind, it's important to remember that there are other good reasons to keep your tools tethered.



Assuming that you’re human just like everyone else, you don't have the reflexes to catch any and every tool that falls from your hand or slips out of your tool belt. In fact, in many cases, making an effort to catch a falling tool could be more dangerous than just letting it go. When you drop an untethered tool, there will almost always be a snap reaction, whether it's quickly trying to grab it or simply the shock or surprise of seeing your tool falling. Those snap reactions can throw you off balance, putting you at risk of falling along with your dropped tool.

But even if you don't fall, there's still a risk of property damage. Heavy tools falling from heights can do serious damage to the equipment, vehicles, or structures below. The tools themselves can also get damaged upon impact. With workers using an increasing number of highly technical or digital equipment, replacing tools damaged in a fall can be extremely costly.

Moreover, depending on where you’re working, the property you damage might not be owned by your company. Damage inflicted by a falling tool landing on someone else’s property could be more expensive than simply replacing the damaged goods if it results in costly insurance payments or lawsuits

It’s also important to remember that as objects fall, their weight and speed can result in more damage than they would cause if they fell from closer to the ground. That means even lightweight tools can have serious effects. This is especially true when there is a piercing effect—imagine the damage a dropped screwdriver could do if it landed head first.

Even if no one is working beneath you, dropping tools could put your own safety at risk or cause damage to valuable property. Overall, the temptation to go tether-free isn't worth the risk.

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Written by Sam Cook
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Sam is a freelance writer specializing in technology, privacy, national and international news. In a former life, taught literature, grammar, speech, and Journalism.   Full Bio