“New research published by Safe Work Australia shows the death toll from falling objects on Australian worksites have nearly doubled in recent years.”

In the report, Key Work Health and Safety Statistics, Australia 2014, published by Safe Work Australia, deaths from falling objects have increased from 18 in 2009-10 to 30 as of 2011-12. The alarming rise in deaths from falling objects place Safety Professionals under more pressure to control falling object hazards. Controlling hazards caused by falling objects are compounded by the range of potential hazards from lifting operations, to hand held tools and equipment coupled with the propensity for human error.

Controlling all the factors that can lead to a falling object requires a comprehensive program for both large and small objects. Large falling object hazards may arise from building structures, large objects stored at heights, lifting operations, transfer and removal of materials. While many falling object programs control large objects at heights, for smaller objects used by workers, such as hand held tools and equipment, controls are not as widely known.

Small objects such as PPE, portable communication equipment, materials, parts and tools can all become a potential falling hazard if proper controls are not in place. Even a 1kg spanner dropped from a height of 4 metres will hit the ground travelling at over 30km/hr. A small falling object can damage property or tools, increase lost time recovering or replacing tools, and in the worst cases causes injury or fatality.

In the publication, “Managing the Risk of Falls at Workplaces: Code of Practice”, Regulation 34-38 of the Workplace Health and Safety Act 2011, requires employers to implement controls to minimise risks so far as is reasonably practicable. Although this is the case, the Code does little in the way to account for hazards posed by small falling objects. In contrast, Safe Work Australia’s “Falling Objects Fact Sheet” does provide some guidance to control small falling object hazards, for example requiring all tools and materials be tethered or otherwise secured while working at heights.

To help employers manage risks associated with small falling objects, safety and wellness solutions provider Pryme has partnered with specialist safety technology developer Ergodyne® and HSE Consultants, to develop a best practice Small Falling Objects Prevention Program. The program consists of a number of materials from risk assessment, to toolbox training sessions, policies and procedures coupled with guides to aid in the selection of the latest in falling object prevention technologies to build your program.

Pryme’s Small Falling Objects Prevention Program is due for launch later this month. Click on the Follow button, to follow the Pryme Linked In page and receive these materials and regular updates as soon as they launch. For enquiries and any further information, please contact us at

Calls for safety push on offshore rigs after rise in falling objects

With an 800 per cent ¹ rise in the number of falling objects on offshore rigs in Australia this year, companies are being urged to maintain effective safety practices and encourage the use of appropriate safety equipment to minimise risk and injury to workers.

Nine dropped object incidents were reported in the first quarter of 2013, compared to one in the same period of 2012, according to a report by the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA).

The report indicated that six out of the nine incidents could have resulted in a fatality. The weight of each falling object ranged from two to 2,300 kilograms, and they fell from a maximum height of 43 metres.
According to an industry supported ‘DROPS calculator’, a mass as little as 700 grams falling from a height of 15 metres has the potential to result in a fatality¹.

An increase in the number of dropped objects on offshore rigs highlighted the need for suitable safety equipment and continued regular safety training.

“With such a significant rise in the number of dropped objects, it is extremely important that workers are provided with appropriate safety equipment and are regularly educated about preventative falling object safety measures to eliminate the occurrence of dropped objects altogether,”

“Dropped objects can include sections of drill pipe from casing, a spool, wire rope, an equipment handle or navigation light fitting. It really doesn’t matter what it is, it’s the weight of the object and the height at which it drops that does the damage.

“Our Squids® Ergodyne Tool lanyard range allows workers to secure tools with a number of attachment options ranging from heavy-duty self-locking carabiners and barrel locks, to quick connect buckles. We also offer Squids® grabbers which are designed to hold gloves, rags, caps, water bottles and more close at hand items.”

Injuries that workers have suffered to date include crush and leg injuries and each outcome could have been a lot worse and potentially fatal. Having the right ergonomic and safety protection equipment like tool safety lanyards is a small price to pay for the safety of workers in productive, high-risk environments and we’re urging all companies to invest in quality products.

1. Source: NOPSEMA: Number of Dropped Objects on Offshore Rigs on the Rise (Australia)