ANSI 121-2018 The new standard for fall protection for tools

ANSI 121-2018 new standard for preventing falling tools

Every year falling objects injure or kill tens of thousands of employees. In 2017 in the United States alone, 7 people would get injured by a dropped object or piece of equipment every hour. These injuries and deaths are entirely preventable with the correct equipment for tethering and containment.

For this reason, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) developed a standard addressing solutions for preventing dropped objects in the workplace. The American National Standard for Dropped Object Prevention, ANSI/ISEA 121-2018. Let’s check what this standard says exactly in the next paragraph.

The dangers of falling tools in the USA

ANSI is a standard, not a regulation

While your company may not be in the United States there is a possibility this standard will apply to you as well.

ANSI/ISEA 121-2018 is not a regulation, but rather a voluntary standard that sets a best practice. But please, take special note of that last part of the sentence. While the Occupational Health and Safety Association (OSHA) in the United States may not have formal regulations for tool tethering, they do state that best practice should be followed.

The same goes for, for example, the Health & Safety Executive in the United Kingdom. This could mean that the Health and Safety body in your country could use the best practice as grounds to cite your company if you are investigated for a dropped object injury or fatality. Always check your local standards and regulations when it comes to safety.

Preventing objects from falling from heights

All over the world countries have regulations, like OSHA, that require employers to provide safe workplaces free from dropped object risks. These regulations however do not specify what kinds of controls can be used to do so. ANSI/ISEA 121-2018 is a standard completely focused on proper equipment for tool tethering, setting requirement for design, performance and labeling. This standard will help ban duct tape and string as tethering solutions, as they are a poor solution for keeping those below safe from falling objects. Falling objects need to have more attention. There are way too many accidents because of falling objects yearly.

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Currently four kinds of preventative solutions are included:

  • Tool attachments
    These are attachment points that can be installed onto tools to equip them with suitable connection points for tethering.
  • Anchor attachments
    Attachment points that can be installed to a person or structure to provide the anchor for tool tethering.
  • Tool tethers
    The lanyard, or other materials, which attaches the tools to the anchor points.
  • Containers
    Bags, buckets, pouches and so on used to transport tools and equipment to and from workplaces at height.

While the standard provides equipment to prevent dropped objects it does not become specific. No rules are set for what kinds of tools need to be tethered, or when you need to tether them. To work in accordance with regulations, employers will have to set policies regarding tool tethering to ensure no one gets hurt. These policies will have to be included in the fall protection plan.

Download tool tethering checklist

Want to know if your tool tethers are in compliance with ANSI/ISEA 121:2018? We have made a downloadable checklist that shows you the requirements. Download it below. If you want more information about regulations, please check this page. If you want more information about tool tethering, please contact our office.

Also check out our blog with 10 best practices for preventing falling tools and the corresponding free poster.

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