The eyes of an employee are one of the greatest tools in the injury prevention toolbox. With those eyes an employee can spot hazards and take the steps necessary to prevent injury. However, each year thousands of workers are injured by a hazard they cannot see, falling objects. This article will examine six ways an employer can help mitigate the risk and injury associated with falling objects.
1. Provide Warning
When working on a jobsite where the potential for falling objects exist the employer needs to provide adequate warning for both the employee and other people who may enter the jobsite. Ways to do this include verbally communicating the hazards and by placing of signage tat states beware of falling equipment. Another way to ensure safety of guest on the jobsite is to have an employee in charge of escorting them who is aware of areas that have potential for falling objects. The employee can then try to navigate the guest’s route around those hazards.
2. Secure loads
If an employee is required to lift a load to a higher level they need to make sure the load is properly secure. In cases of lifting a pallet with stacks of boxes plastic wrap can provide stability and keep objects from falling. If using plastic wrap don’t forget that plastic may stretch due to the high heat at the top of the racks and may cause the load to shift. For heavier loads employees can use metal or cloth straps to secure.
3. Properly move load
When moving a load it is important to never lift, lower or swing a load over anyone’s head. In areas where loads are being placed on high shelf’s with the potential to tumble over the other side ensure you have a spotter in place that keeps employees from entering the backside hazard and that can help instruct the employee placing the load. If possible, restrict these stacking and heavy moving operations to hours when fewer people are present.
4. Keep a clean worksite
Tools and debris are one of the main causes of falling objects. To mitigate this hazard employees need to ensure the work areas is clean and tidy. When a worker is done using a tool they need to put it in the proper storage area, if they have made a mess or created debris they need to clean it up immediately.
5. Administrative controls
Administrative controls are a great way to prevent or stop falling objects in the workplace. Examples of these types of controls include the installation of boards on the sides of elevated work areas or scaffolds to prevent objects from falling over the edge, the usage of bars across storage areas to keep material from tumbling out, the usage of nets to capture falling object, the implementation of fences or other barricades to keep workers and guest out of fall zones and scheduling work for a time when the amount of people at lower levels is at a minimum.
6. Protective Equipment
When all else fails the last line of defense is personal protective equipment. Anyone who is going to be in an area where to potential for falling object hazards exists needs to wear a hard hat and steel toed shoes. Both of these pieces of equipment must be inspected before use and be in proper working condition and fit properly. All employers are required to provide employees with Personal Protective Equipment.