The Case for Tool Tethering Devices when Working at Height

The Case for Tool Tethering Devices when Working at Height

20th February 2019

A fall from height is still a very real risk in the construction industry today, despite the strict rules and regulations governing work at height of all kinds.  Another common cause of injury on construction sites around the world is being struck by tools or materials that fall from height.  This is why tool tethering is such an important issue.  Keeping track of your tools whilst working at height is a challenge and using a tool tethering system is the most efficient method of avoiding the risk of falling objects on a building site. 

There are thousands of injuries here in the UK every year as a direct result of a dropped tool.  We know that hard hats are there to protect workers from falling objects, as well as other risks, but minimising the risk is always preferable as a method of preventing injuries. 

For example, the average screwdriver doesn’t weigh very much at all – it’s not considered a heavy tool.  However, if a screwdriver is dropped from a height of 45ft (14 metres), the acceleration combined with the screwdriver’s original mass means that it will hit the ground with an impact weight of over 70kg – this could kill somebody even if they are wearing a hard hat!

When you consider that much heavier and larger tools are frequently being used for work at height on a daily basis, you can see that tool tethering is a vital part of an effective health and safety policy. 

Using a lanyard specifically designed to tether tools and keep them safe adds an extra level of safety to any construction site.  The law requires that working at height must be done in the safest way possible and this applies to all work at height and means that employers whose employees are expected to work at height have a duty to use all resources available to ensure the safety of workers and tools. 

Safe work at height relies on a combination of controls, including safety nets, covered walkways and tool tethering.  When tools are transferred from an individual worker to a tool storage box or bag, proper transfer procedures should be followed to make sure that all tools are secure at all times. 

This makes sense on so many levels, including economically.  Any employer who fails to ensure that work at height is carried out in the safest manner possible is likely to face hefty fines, or even a jail sentence.  This doesn’t just apply in the aftermath of an incident or accident, it applies at all times.  If an employee or a member of the public reports a concern about unsafe working practices to the relevant authorities, the employer is likely to face a court case and subsequent fines.  This could mean financial ruin for any construction company owner.

The added bonus of adopting a tool tethering policy is that it will protect tools from damage, avoiding the need to replace costly tools and equipment that have been ruined in a fall.  The more tools you have in operation at any given time, the greater the risk that they will experience a fall from height (and subsequent damage).