ANSI Approves New ISEA 121 Standard for Fall Protection for Tools

In the United States, the new ANSI/ISEA 121-2018 standard for Dropped Objects Protection was approved on July 02, 2018, by the American National Standards Association.

This standard was initially prepared by the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA), and passed earlier this year, in an effort to provide manufacturers of dropped objects equipment with guidance on testing and performance criteria. This new ANSI/ISEA 121-2018 standard focuses on tool and equipment tethering products designed for use in the occupational safety sector and has now received final approval by the American National Standards Association (ANSI) to become an American National Standard. ISEA is preparing the standard for its publication and will provide more information regarding education and where to purchase the document in the near future.

But why did ISEA issue this new standard? For decades the leading causes of death on construction job sites in the United States have been ‘falls’ and ‘struck by object’ incidents according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In fact, in 2015, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) recorded 364 deaths from falls (38.8% of the total construction deaths) and 90 deaths from struck by objects (9.6% of the total construction deaths). That’s a total of 454 workers whose lives could have been saved with the right training and equipment.

According to BLS, there are more than 50,000 “struck by falling object” OSHA recordable incidents every year in the United States and, as we shared with EHS Today, that’s one injury caused by a dropped object every 10 minutes on the job. This even includes dropping things like cell phones, smartphones and radios.

Why is this New ANSI/ISEA 121-2018 so Important?

Statistics like these have driven the need to develop a standard with industry-wide requirements for products designed to provide people and equipment protection from dropped objects.

As we mentioned, this new standard has been developed by the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) and it was created in conjunction with many of the leading dropped objects equipment manufacturers.

What Does this New Standard Address?

The new ANSI/ISEA 121-2018 standard establishes the minimum design, performance testing and labeling requirements for equipment solutions that reduce dropped objects incidents in industrial and occupational settings. Dropped objects include hand tools, instrumentation, small parts, structural components and other items that need to be transferred and used at heights. These objects have the opportunity of becoming dropped objects potentially resulting in a struck-by or fatal injury or in damage to equipment. This standard focuses on preventative solutions actively used by workers to mitigate these hazards.

worker looking into dropped object tool bag

Four individual categories have been established to address specific solutions:

  1. Tool tethers – Lanyards or materials designed in order to connect tools to approved anchor points.
  2. Tool attachments – Attachment points designed to be field installed onto tools or equipment in order to provide appropriate connection points for tethering.
  3. Anchor attachments – Attachment points designed to be field installed on structures, equipment or workers, to provide appropriate connection points for tethering.
  4. Containers and bags – Devices designed to carry or transport tools and equipment to and from heights.

What is Included in the OSHA General Duty Clause Section 5(a)(1)?

Currently, there is an OSHA General Duty Clause Section 5(a)(1) requiring employers to maintain a workplace “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm” to employees. OSHA’s criteria for issuing a General Duty Clause Violation include:

  • There must be a hazard
  • The hazard must be recognized
  • The hazard causes or is likely to cause injury or death
  • The hazard must be correctable

OSHA also requires that if you work in an environment where you’re at risk of being hit by something that falls, you must do the following:

  • Secure tools and materials to prevent them from falling on people below
  • Barricade hazard areas and post warning signs
  • Use toe boards, screens on guardrails or scaffolds to prevent falling objects
  • Use debris nets, catch platforms or canopies to catch or deflect falling objects.

Protect Your Workforce from Dropped Objects: Get the Fall Protection for Tools You Need

It is the responsibility of every safety manager, construction superintendent, overseer and worker to make sure they understand the dangers they face when working at height. Fall prevention means preventing things from falling, whether they are people, tools or equipment. All of these people should be involved in drafting a comprehensive fall protection program and plan that is designed to help prevent dropped object incidents.

If you need help with your plan we encourage you to visit our fall protection for tools page and contact our health and safety specialists for assistance.