The International Safety Equipment Association and American National Standards Institute have developed a new standard aimed at helping employers reduce the risk of dropped objects incidents in industrial and occupational settings.

ANSI/ISEA 121-2018, American National Standard for Dropped Object Prevention Solutions—approved on July 2, 2018—establishes minimum design, performance, and labeling requirements for solutions and testing that mitigate this hazard.

Deaths, Injuries from Dropped Objects

According to an ISEA statement, the standard was developed in response to the thousands of workers each year in the U.S. who are injured—and the hundreds who die—from being struck by a falling object, such as hand tools, instrumentation, small parts, structural components, and other items that must be transferred and used at heights.

In 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there were 255 fatalities and 47,920 reported injuries from dropped objects in the United States, making this the third leading cause of injuries on the jobsite, according to OSHA.

Compared to 2015, deaths from dropped objects were up approximately 3.24%, and injuries increased by 6.85%.

Overall struck-by injuries were up 8.7% from 2013 to 2014, and are projected to increase to 9.1% by the end of 2018, according to the BLS.

Liberty Mutual Insurance alone said it paid out $5.3 billion in workers' compensation claims from 2013 to 2014. Workers' comp claims don't include damage to equipment, structures, and the environment.

'Safer, More Reliable Solutions'

"The standard kicks off a new generation of tethering practices," explained Nate Bohmbach, associate product director, Ergodyne, and chair of ISEA's Dropped Object Prevention Group.

A lot of people are tethering their tools and equipment using just duct tape and rope, which is pretty alarming.
“A lot of people are tethering their tools and equipment using just duct tape and rope, which is pretty alarming, so this standard guides employers and workers toward safer, more reliable solutions.”

Industries where elevated work areas are common have been especially susceptible to the risk of dropped objects, including the oil and gas, construction, energy, and telecommunications infrastructure, shipping operations, and aviation industries.

The standard addresses four active controls but does not include passive controls. The active controls are:

  • Anchor attachments
  • Tool attachments
  • Tool tethers
  • Containers (buckets, pouches)

"ANSI/ISEA 121-2018 gives manufacturers guidelines and establishes minimum design, testing, and performance criteria," said Matt Thoms, designer/drafter, 3M, and member of ISEA's Dropped Object Prevention Group.

"Clearly, a variety of industries should be using safety products that will help keep tools and other items from falling off workers and equipment at heights."