Falling objects from above cause serious injuries and account for fatalities every year. Falling object accidents occur due to a lack of hazard communication, improper storage of materials, improper protection of elevated storage areas, not moving or securing loads properly, when protective headgear is not worn, and improper housekeeping.
In the past few years, there have been several deaths and serious injuries around the country at various places of employment from objects falling on workers. These injuries are proof of how dangerous falling objects at work can be.
As you go into work, look around the facility for falling object hazards such as:
- Are pallets stacked appropriately?
- Are there any stacked loads leaning, ready to topple over?
- Are you walking or working under or around a lift?
- Are there objects on upper levels that could fall off?
- Are you near a hoisted object?
- Are there tools unsecured or laying on elevated platforms?
Here are some causes of falling object injuries:
- Inadequate signage warning others about overhead work
- Loose and/or unsecured tools and material
- Loose boxes or other objects that get displaced and fall off from stacked material overhead
- Falling objects dropped by workers at a higher level
- Loads being lifted or carried overhead not secured properly, leading to objects getting dislodged and falling
- Not following housekeeping practices creating debris in elevated locations that can cause objects to be dropped
Ways you can prevent accidents from falling objects:
- Any load that must be lifted to a high position must be secured properly with strong restraints to prevent it from falling
- Workers must be discouraged from lifting loads or lowering them over other workers’ heads
- Use barricades, signs and caution tape to prevent workers from entering the areas where loads are being lifted and lowered
- When possible, verbally warn fellow employees to the dangers of entering lift areas
- All precautions must be taken to prevent materials from falling from a platform while being stacked
- Practice good housekeeping by keeping tools and other materials away from edges and off railings or sills
- Don’t try to catch falling objects; let them fall, unless it will injure those below
- Secure tools carried on your person when climbing or working at heights
It is the responsibility of every person at work to ensure the safety of themselves and those around them. Take a moment and look for these types of hazards and correct them before you or a coworker gets hurt: