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The 4 Things You Can Do to Protect Your Workmates When Working at Heights

by FutureMan Collaborator 03 Sep 2020

While there’s a lot corporate can do to reduce risks around a job site, safety is everyone’s responsibility. When you’re working at height, it’s important to understand how your actions and the actions of your workmates can increase and decrease the risk you and the people around you are exposed to.

That includes injuries and fatalities relating to dropped tools. If you’re looking to work smarter and keep the people around you safer, here are four things you can start doing right now to keep tools and equipment where they belong.

Save the DIY for home

Many workers recognise the risk that a dropped tool poses to their colleagues and passers-by and – without official support – try to minimise the chance that they could be responsible for an injury.

Often this involves homemade tethers and grips. While we at GRIPPS appreciate the concern workers have for the people around them, these DIY safety measures are simply not an appropriate and effective way to prevent tool drops. Homemade tethers and grips provide a false sense of security without the kind of reliability a professionally-made and rigorously tested product can provide.

As an example, take one of the most common DIY safety devices seen on construction sites – the rubber band grip. Often deployed on tools with slippery, non-rubberised all-steel handles, this DIY solution improves grip marginally but is prone to breaking when you need it most. What’s more, it doesn’t prevent a tool drop in the event that you lose your grip on it, like the range of gloves and wrist bands from GRIPPS.

Don’t gamble the safety of your colleagues on a homemade piece of safety equipment – stop with the DIY grips and tethers and choose the product more professionals work with.

Understand who’s responsible

Complicating matters are the numerous different employment arrangements in use across the industry. Who’s responsible for ensuring that tools are equipped with the proper tethers can differ between companies and between jobsites.

In some cases, contractors may be required to provide their own tethers. This can be problematic as no legislative requirement exists for tools on construction sites to be equipped with fall prevention tethers, meaning that contractors may be caught short without them when an individual client requires it. Because of this, it would be wise for any tradie looking to not only work safer but work more often to buy a set of tethers for their own tools. That way, you’re in full compliance with all tethering policies wherever they exist.

On other sites where a policy requiring tethers is in place, the employer will be the one who has to provide these. Even so, while your employer may be responsible for affixing tethers to your tools, you’re responsible for using them the right way. Workers should take the time to familiarise themselves with the range of tethers and seek help if required when fitting them to ensure that they are correctly attached.

Know your tools

Hand in hand with getting the right tethers for your tools comes knowing how best to tether them. There are numerous ways to secure the same tool safely but depending on its design and the nature of your work there’s going to be a configuration that’s easiest for you to work with. The same screwdriver could be secured with a metal tool ring or by a tether to a specially equipped glove, or could be stored in a secure tool sheath hung off your belt.

A good workman needs to know their tools and the environment they’ll be using them in inside and out, so work with your site supervisor to determine the safest way to secure your equipment. The unique requirements of your role may mean that certain options are not suitable for you, but with so many options for drop prevention available, we’re certain we can help every worker find the right solution for their kit fitout. 

Zero tolerance for unsafe practices

The most important thing you can do on the job site is keep an eye out for your colleagues. While it can be a hard thing to tell a mate off, with something as serious as falling object prevention it’s important that everyone stays on top of it, even if it means giving the people around you a nudge.

If you see someone slacking off with their tethering, not taking the time to attach tools properly or being generally unsafe with their tools, let them know what they’re doing. Often it’s not malevolence, it’s just someone rushing to finish their work or someone who needs help working the safety equipment. Take responsibility in your own area amongst your own mates for the safety of the people around you and find out how much better protected everyone on site could be.

Want to know more about how the right tool tethering equipment and practices could keep your site safe? Talk to the experts at GRIPPS and book a full safety audit of your site today.

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