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Tool tethering. A viable falling object prevention strategy.

by GRIPPS Global 01 May 2024

Safety is the primary concern when working at heights. Without proper safety precautions, such work poses significant risks to both site workers and individuals on the ground. An inadequately secured tool, like a free-falling hammer, can pose a serious threat to unsuspecting people below, leading to devastating, and often fatal, consequences.

Implementing effective tool safety measures, particularly through tool tethering, is crucial to safeguarding workers and the public from potential serious injuries. 

What is tool tethering? 

Tool tethering is a safety precaution that mitigates the risk of tools falling or being accidentally dropped during work at elevated heights. The procedure involves establishing a tether point on the tool and affixing it to a secure, load-rated anchor. Lighter tools can be tethered to a wristband, a tool belt, or the worker's harness. Heavier items must be anchored to a sturdy, fixed point like a load-rated rail or beam.

It is essential to perform a thorough risk assessment to determine the appropriateness of the anchor point and to evaluate potential effects on the surrounding environment.

Are there international standards or regulations for tool tethering?

Dropped or falling objects rank as one of the “fatal four” leading causes of fatalities in the workplace. (Neitzel, 2019). When faced with the choice between tool tethering and risking serious injury, the only viable option is, of course, tool tethering

ANSI/ISEA 121-2018, the standard for Dropped Objects Protection was approved on 2 July 2018, by the American National Standards Institute. This standard, prepared by the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA), provide manufacturers of dropped objects equipment with guidance on testing and performance criteria and focuses on tool and equipment tethering products designed for use in the occupational safety sector. (Chubb Global Risk Advisors, 2021). 

How can you ensure your tools are safely and correctly tethered?

Not every tool or part of a tool is appropriate for tether connection, and it is crucial to adhere to the recommendations provided by the tool and tool tether manufacturers.

The GRIPPS® CATT Methodology is an effective system for ensuring safe tool tethering. The

acronym stands for CONNECT, ANCHOR, TETHER, and TRANSPORT, providing a framework for proper implementation.


Attach a connection point to your tool that matches the appropriate load rating and is suitable for both the task at hand and your work environment. 


Identify the anchor point suitable for the weight of your tool that will be securely fastened. Consider options such as a load-rated work belt, wrist anchor, or tool bag, ensuring it matches the height of the worker. Alternatively, use the structure or equipment in use, provided it offers a suitable anchor point.


Choose a tether with an appropriate load rating, length, and suitability for the task at hand.


Identify the methods for transporting your tools and equipment throughout the project. Keep in mind that nearly one-third of tool-related accidents happen during transportation between work areas. Using certified tool bags and pouches is important for minimising the risk of dropped tools on site.

It is important to not only buy the correct and safe equipment for you or your workers, but also ensure that everybody working at height comprehends the best practices for drop prevention.

The CATT Methodology, widely acknowledged, offers a straightforward approach to tool tethering that can be used by any worker.

To help guarantee the safe use of a tether in securing a tool, Power Tool Institute also recommends the following tips:

  • Confirm that all elements (anchor attachment, tether, and tool attachment) are load-rated to handle the tool's maximum weight, encompassing the tool itself, any inserts, or accessories, and, for cordless tools, the weight of the heaviest battery.
  • Prior to use, carefully read, comprehend, and adhere to all provided instructions and guidelines.
  • Take note of any specified limitations for individual components, such as tool attachments approved only for use with specific tethers.
  • Before each use, inspect the tether thoroughly. If wear and tear is present, promptly replace any components as needed.
  • Attach the anchor only to parts of the tool capable of withstanding arresting forces securely.
  • Verify that your tool is designed for tether connection, and if so, identify suitable locations for tether attachment.
  • Ensure the tether does not impede the tool's operation, including guards, locks, and switches.
  • Confirm that removable parts (accessories, inserts, batteries, etc.) are firmly affixed to the tool.
  • Opt for the shortest tether appropriate for your task, as longer tethers can result in a greater drop distance and increased stress on the system during a fall. (Power Tool Institute, 2020).

    How can you successfully deploy a tool tethering and falling object prevention plan?

    Step 1 – Risk awareness training

    Conduct training sessions to raise awareness, ensuring that the entire workforce understands the risks associated with their daily tasks.

    Step 2 – Tool tethering training

    After attaining full awareness of the potential risks, the workforce should be equipped with the knowledge of how to minimise these risks. It is important to undergo training on the proper use of tool tethering equipment to guarantee compliance.

    Step 3 – Storage requirements

    Determine the process for distributing tool tethering equipment to the workforce and designate the responsible person for tasks such as affixing connection points to all tools and equipment.

    Step 4 – Continuous improvement

    Establish a follow-up and continuous improvement process, like a Falling Object Prevention Plan,  to sustain momentum after workforce training and the equipment was deployed. Given the critical nature of these life-saving devices, it is important to regularly inspect them for wear and tear, promptly replacing any components as needed.

    Numerous products and setups are available for businesses to secure their tools. While "off-the-shelf" options may be popular or cost-effective, the only viable choice is to invest in a safety-tested and load-rated tool tethering solution.

    To ensure best practice, consider rolling out a tool tethering training programme. Whether you have a small group or several hundred workers, we provide the flexibility and resources you require to ensure your workers are educated in essential tool tethering and drop prevention safety. Our course is designed to teach workers the potentially life-threatening nature of dropped objects and how to best avoid such threats on worksites.

    As global leaders in tool tethering, we collaborate closely with partners across a wide range of industry sectors; engineering solutions to ensure that their workforce returned home safely after each shift. GRIPPS® is dedicated to saving lives, through the implementation of innovative tool tethering solutions.

    To find out how our innovative and practical tool tethering solutions can benefit your business, contact us today.



    Chubb Global Risk Advisors. (2021, September). Using tethering tools to reduce workplace injuries. USA.

    Neitzel, D. K. (2019, June 3). OSHA’s “Fatal Four” – Leading Causes of Fatalities in the Workplace. Brentwood, Tennessee , United States. Retrieved from

    Power Tool Institute. (2020). Tool tethering. Retrieved from

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