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Safety toolbox talk on falling objects prevention and protection measures

Safety toolbox talk on falling objects prevention and protection measures
Safety toolbox talk on falling objects safety

Safety toolbox talk on falling objects prevention and protection measures

Material, tools, or objects falling from elevated work platform/walkways can cause serious damage to both peoples and other valuable equipment at the level below which they strike. Suitable preventive measures, such as the guardrails system, including toe boards with screen and wire-mesh,  can help prevent falls.   
During construction or demolition work, objects, material such as bricks, stones, concrete waste, debris, other loose structural materials or dropped hand tools and equipment  can fall to a lower level and injure people who work there. Suitable preventive measures to prevent falls of such objects can prevent injuries and damage to underneath equipment.
The Safety toolbox talk on falling objects prevention and protection measures should be conducted after carefully evaluating the hazards and risk prior to beginning work. Daily safety toolbox talk helps remind workers of the prevention and protection measures identified in the job safety analysis and therefore helps prevent unintended incidences.

Regulations – Prevention of falling objects

Falling objects prevention and protection measures must comply with OSHA 29 CFR 1926.502(j) (1 to 8) as it possesses hazards to workers and property. Fall prevention and protection must be implemented at a height greater than 1.8 m above the reference level and there is risk of falls.
In accordance with OSHA 29 CFR 1926.502(j) (5), the guardrail system without any opening can be used to prevent objects falling from one level to lower level.
Canopies can be used as protection against falling materials but must be strong enough to withstand the load of falling objects, confirming OSHA 29 CFR 1926.502(j)(8).
The handling and stowage of bricks, masonry and mortar on the elevated platform must comply  with OSHA 29 CFR 1926.502(j)(6).
In roofing work, the storage of material, tools, and temporary equipment must comply with OSHA 29 CFR 1926.502(j)(7)
Toe-boards can be used to prevent falling of materials from height in accordance with OSHA 29n CFR 1926.502 (j) (1)
Safety net must be installed in accordance with OSHA 29 CFR 1926.502(c)(4)(ii)

Hazards - falling objects

Height and mass: hazard severity increase with increase in fall height and mass of falling object.
Deteriorate structure: Corroded or deteriorate structure liable to fail, damaged wall and other masonry are liable to fall of materials such as bricks or tiles.
Poor storage of materials: Storage of material near unprotected edges of working platform, roofs, and unstable stacking of materials liable to falls.
Poor housekeeping: Unsafe practices of accumulating waste material on working platforms and not removing timely may lead to fall due to overload of loose stacking.
Damaged platform or hole in platform: Material can fall through uncovered holes in platform or due to damaged of working or walking platform.
Gaps in working or walking platform:  Gap in between side wall and working platform or gap in working platform and toe boards or gap in platform surfaces or inadequate toe-boards can lead to fall of material through these gaps.
Open surfaces: Material stored in open elevated surfaces or unprotected edge surfaces liable to fall.
Unsafe act: Unsafe act like throwing of materials, objects and tools from height, incorrect way of getting materials from one level to another may lead to falls.
Use of damaged or defective tools: Damaged or deteriorated tools can fail during work and can fall and hit people or equipment on the lower level.

Risk of falling objects/ material/ tools

Falling objects can cause serious injury to people and damage to other valuable equipment at the level below which they strike.
Falling objects pose a high risk due to the high probability of falling and the severity can be fatality or significant financial loss due to damage of valuable items.

Falling objects - preventive measures

1. Avoid storage of loose material on elevated working platform or near unprotected surface edges. During brick and similar other work, no material or objects (except masonry and mortal) should be stored within 4 feet of working edges. 
2. Don’t stack unwanted or waste construction material on elevated working platform or on walkways where there is a risk of falls. When working on roof, material should not be stored near the edges of roof within 6 feet unless an appropriate guardrails system is installed. All of these materials should be properly secured.
3. Use a tools bag/ kit or holder to carry and store hand tools at elevated work area. Secure hand tools with tool belts and it must be able to support 30 to 40 lbs. Hangers, clips and holder can be used to secure small tools. Wrist lanyard can be used to secure small hand tools such as hammers, spanners, etc.
4. Fall hazards such as holes and opening in walkways and working platform must be immediately covered or protected by providing barriers or a guardrail system. Physical solid barriers must be provided around the excavated area.
5. Guardrails system: All unprotected edges of surfaces where there is risk of fall of material must be protected with wire mess or other solid boards or bricks guards. Guardrails system with intermediate structural members along with screen, wire mesh  must be provided from top rail to the surface of work platform or walkway to cover entire gap to prevent fall of materials on workers underneath or at lower level.
Additional mid-rails or other architectural panels can be provided to avoid any gap in the guardrails system more than 19 inches wide. Toe-boards helps to prevent fall of small objects like rubble and tools, from being casually kicked off the platform. Toe-board must be capable to withstand the load/force of 50 pounds.
6. Debris chute:  Debris chute or Trash chutes can be used to safely disposal of rubbles or large quantities of debris from buildings, elevated platforms, elevated structures and roofs into containers at ground level.
7. Brick-guard: Firmly fitted wire mesh/ board with top rail, mid-rial extended till surface of working platform can be used to as brick guard to prevent the objects from height. Brick guard can be used to prevent more substantial amount of material such as bricks, stones, debris, etc from falling and can also helps to prevent fall of persons as well.
8. Strong elevated work platform: All elevated work platform used for storage of material should be sufficiently large to allow space for materials as well as to person to work comfortably. Work platform should be capable to withstand the load of material as well as workers.  It must be fully boarded to prevents gaps that could present falling objects hazards.
9. Material delivery: Suitable means (Cradle, material baskets, rope, etc) should  be used to deliver the material, structure, portable tools and other architectural objects from one level to another level. Cradle and man basket must be load tested and must be fully covered to prevent fall of material. Instead of man-chain for delivering the material, Rope can be used to deliver the scaffolding material, tools, and equipment’s safely from different level or work.

Falling objects - protection measures

Safety net: A safety net can be provided underneath of elevated working area where there is risk of falling material or workers. Safety net must be properly fixed and secured by a competent person and must be closed to elevated working surface on which workers work. It should not be more than 30 feet below the work area to minimize the distance of the fallen objects. It can also be provided on the side of scaffolding covering both underneath and the lateral zone and the potential fall area to the safety net must be unobstructed.
Safety net should be installed in such way that there is safety clearance underneath to prevent a falling object from adapting to the surface or structure under the safety net.
To ensure that the safety net is properly installed, a drop test can be performed before allowing to start the work. Do not use a defective safety net and inspect it weekly to check its integrity.
Safe opening must be provided in the net to facilitate removal of material that has fallen onto the safety net daily, but the openings should not exceed 36 square inches. Opening should exceed 6 inches on each side.
Border rope can be used to provide the strength to safety net and should have a resistance of at least 5000 pounds.
Canopies: Canopies can be provided on the valuable equipment to protect them from falling objects. All canopies must be designed adequately and must be capable to withstand the impact of falling objects on them and enough to prevent collapse or penetration. 
Physical hard barriers: Metal sheet can be provided to cover the equipment below work area to protect them from falling objects.
Area barricading: The area under and around the work at height must be barricaded with warning tape and a causation boards must be displayed to restrict man movement.

Personal protective Equipment

While installing or erecting guardrails system, safety net, canopies and debris chute, basic PPEs like safety helmet, safety shoes, safety goggles, hand gloves, high visible vest, etc. should be ensured.
Special PPEs like full body safety harness along with anchorage, connectors, lifeline, self-retracting lifeline / lanyard with shock absorber, snap hook and fall protector or rope Grabs should be used.

Toolbox talk interactive Questionnaires on falling objects prevention and protection measures

1. What are the preventive safety measures against falling objects?
2. What are the protective measures against falling objects?
3. What is the difference between preventive and protective measures?
4. How is the guardrail system the best preventive measure to prevent falling objects from height ?
5. What is meant by edge fall prevention system?
6. Why do you require guardrails?
7. How to install toe-board system?
8. What is debris chute and what is it used for?
9. What are the toe-guards or toe-boards used for?
10. How to install a safety net?
11. How to prevent fall of objects through openings or holes?
12. What is meant by canopy, is it a preventive or protective measure?
13. How to secure hand tools to prevent falls?
14.  How strong would the toe-board be?
15. How to carry tools while climbing a ladder?

Falling objects from a height can cause serious damage to both peoples and other valuable equipment at the level below which they strike. Preventive measures such as the guardrails system, brick guards, debris chute, etc can help prevent falls. Hand tools can be secured with a wrist strap and carrying tools in tools bag is the best preventive measures against accidental falls.
Protective measures such as safety net and canopies can help to save the valuable equipment under the work area and where there is potential risk of falling objects.

The Safety toolbox talk on falling objects prevention and protection measures should be carried out after having carefully assessed the hazards and risk before starting work. The toolbox talk on falling objects protection increases worker confidence and prevents errors when installing and using tools at height, and thus helps prevent accidents.

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