There exist a multitude of risks for individuals who earn an income working at height; as such there also exist many strategies for increasing safety when working at height. But what about those who earn a living with their two feet planted firmly on the ground? A construction site is a dangerous place not only for the men manning the scaffolding or climbing the ladders, but also for the men working below them. Dropped objects continue to pose a severe threat to workplace safety on construction sites.
Defining dropped objects
DROPS, The Dropped Objects Prevention Scheme defines a dropped object as any object that falls from a previously static position under its own weight. On construction sites these objects could be hammers, beams, cement slabs etc. Not only do dropped objects pose a serious threat to workplace safety, but fragile or expensive equipment can be damaged beyond repair in a fall.
The dangers posed by dropped objects
Dropped objects are among the Top 10 causes of fatality or serious injury in the workplace or at home!
Steps to take: Dropped Object Prevention and Protection
- Adequate Warning
When work at height is done and the risk for dropped objects is at its greatest it is vital to employee- and site safety that adequate warning against the possibility of dropped objects is available to all people who enter the site. This includes guests who should at all times be escorted by a trained and well-informed, safety-conscious employee. Warnings against dropped object risks can be given verbally at meetings, and should also be posted around the risk sites on weather-proof signage.
- Adequate PPE
All persons who enter a construction site should be wearing proper personal protective equipment at all times. This will include a hard hat when there is work being done at height, for example on scaffolding, and the risk of dropped object-related injuries is heightened.
- Securing Loads
All loads that are moved at heights above the employees’ heads must be properly secured. Materials to be used in aid of securing loads include plastic wrap, plastic cables, metal chains and loadbearing straps such as those employed in extreme sports. It is worth noting that plastic load-securing options such as plastic wrap are at risk of being affected by warm temperatures. Should plastic wrap melt or warp due to the combination of heat and weight, there exists an increased risk of the load losing its stability and causing injury due to its falling.