When working at height, safety is always the top priority.
And we don’t just mean for those doing the hard graft at height.
If the right precautions aren’t taken, working at height can be just as dangerous to those site workers or members of the public on the ground. A free-falling hammer could easily fall onto an unsuspecting victim below, with a devastating impact.
It’s therefore critically important to deploy the appropriate tool safety measures to protect workers and the public from serious injury. That’s where tool tethering comes in.
What is tool tethering?
Tool tethering is a safety measure to prevent tools from falling or being dropped when working at height. The set-up requires a tether point on the tool and an anchor point attached either to the worker, or a scaffolding tool belt or frog. A tool lanyard is then used to connect the anchor point to the tool and prevent this from being dropped.
But you may be wondering if this is necessary, considering the large array of measures already in place to prevent injuries from dropped tools on site. Isn’t that what debris netting, toe boards and exclusion zones are for?
Are you really at risk from a dropped tool?
And if a tool does slip through the net, isn’t that why you have to wear a height safety helmet?
The simple truth is that dropped objects are the third largest cause of workplace fatalities across the world. If the two options are tool tethering or causing serious injury, then tool tethering is of course the only real option.
Is tool tethering a legal requirement?
According to the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Working at Height Regulations 2005:
“Every employer shall, where necessary to prevent injury to a person, take suitable and sufficient steps to prevent, so far as reasonably practicable, the fall of any material or object.”
Although this doesn’t explicitly mention tool tethering, and there aren’t currently any specific requirements in the UK that exclusively define the mandatory use of tethered tools when working at height, there is a clear motivation within HSE’s guidelines to proactively deploy safety measures that will prevent objects from falling. Tool tethering is therefore a critically important safety measure.
Stop the drop! Always take a safety-first approach
Once you’ve decided to utilise tool tethers, there are a range of questions that may arise:
- What type of tether do I need?
- What amount of weight can you tether to a person?
- What impact will a tool tether have to a person’s fall protection devices?
- Is machinery entanglement a possibility?
- Is the tool attachment point strong enough?
To make sure you use tool tethers in the safest possible manner, it’s important to seek the best advice possible. Always consult a safety professional before deploying this system and ensure the whole team is adequately trained on how to operate the equipment safely.
At Leach’s, height safety is in our DNA. We want to help industry do everything possible to keep workers safe and believe tool tethering is an ideal preventative measure to keep accidents and injuries to a minimum.