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Workplace accidents happen every day, and for those performing overhead construction work, drop hazards such as falling tools present a major safety concern. In fact, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) includes the risk of being struck by a falling object as one of the “fatal four” leading causes of injury and death resulting from a construction-related accident. 

It is vital for those working in high-risk environments like construction to take preventative actions that will mitigate risks related to drop hazards. Read on to learn about the dangers of drop hazards in construction, as well tips and safety tools that can be used to avoid pitfalls resulting from drops.

Dangers of Dropped Tools

The construction industry is well known for its high rate of workplace injury, with injuries often being the result of improper tool use and lack of safety equipment. The most recent study from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that on average, the construction industry reports 195,600 workplace injuries per year. 

Construction-related injuries from dropped tools or other objects can vary widely. Minor injuries commonly include cuts, bruises and sprains, whereas major injuries can include fractures, concussions or blindness.



Anyone on a construction site is at an increased risk for injury from dropped tools if the following conditions are present: 

  • Overhead work;
  • Scaffolds;
  • Cranes;
  • Use of power tools; 
  • Ladders;
  • Lifting operations; 
  • Elevated platforms; 
  • Performing tasks that require force (pulling, pushing, prying, etc.); and
  • Portable equipment put together onsite.
Safety Tips

When it comes to dropped object prevention, it’s good to implement best practices in the organization. Below are some of the most notable best practices and prevention solutions to increase construction worker safety. 

  1. Mandate safety equipment: Require hard hats and eyewear to be worn by every person at risk for falling objects. This includes construction workers, managers, property managers and visitors.
 
  2. Mark hazardous areas: Use barricades or ropes to mark off areas where potential drop hazards exist.

  3. Use toe boards and screens: Ensure toe boards and screens are secure in place by having them inspected prior to use. 

  4. Use tool lanyards: Implementing the use of shock absorbing tool lanyards that attach directly to workers will reduce drop risk. Note this only applies to tools light enough that they would not pull a worker down if they were to be dropped. 

  5. Instill standardized housekeeping: Practice good housekeeping and maintenance by keeping tools and other materials away from edges or elevated surfaces. 

  6. Secure tools: Always secure tools and materials to prevent movement from external factors, such as weather. 

  7. Require risk assessments: Requiring risk assessments before conducting work with drop hazards is a great way to prevent a potential accident. 

  8. Remove excess hazards: Mandating that workers at height only bring up tools required to perform their job will reduce the probability of a tool being dropped. 
Tools to Avoid Drop Hazards

In addition to these safety tips, there are many other safety tools that can increase the overall level of safety for construction workers. Not only can these tools help reduce injury rates, but they can additionally improve operational efficiency.


  • Drill boot: Drill boots are designed to protect the battery from dropping on accidental release.

  • Bar clamp: Bar clamps prevent tools from dropping through grating. Engineered to create a strong attachment point, bar clamps are ideal for tools with or without straight shapes, like pry or alignment bars.

  • Hard hat tether: On a multi-level construction site, a hard hat tether will prevent a worker’s hard hat from falling on a fellow worker or passerby. The tether easily attaches to any style hard hat without hindering the comfort or usability. 

  • Rail rig: Rail rigs use an auto-locking trigger cleat system for a controlled release, making lowering and lifting up to 100 pounds simple and safe. Rail rigs provide workers with the peace of mind so they can pause and rest mid-lift without a cause for concern about tool drops.

  • Self-closing tool pouch: Self-closing tool pouches feature an internal self-closing feature, enabling them to automatically shut when turned upside down, preventing items from being dropped.

  • Quick switch: This handheld tool is designed for hands-free tool transferring and sharing between workers. A quick switch provides safe gripping, steadiness at heights and the ability to maintain control of multiple tools at once without entanglement or swinging. 

  • Debris nets and catch platforms: Debris nets and catch platforms can prevent workplace injury by catching or deflecting falling tools or objects.

It is crucial that construction business owners and contractors are taking the steps required to reduce potential workplace injury. With proper preparation and preventative measures coupled with safety tool accessories, workers can avoid injuries from drop hazards. Better yet, putting these best practices into effect will promote a stronger, more productive workforce.

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