Look Out Below – Avoiding Falling Object Hazards

Manufacturing work can be hazardous under any circumstances, but when other work is being done overhead there’s a new dimension of risk. Here’s a quick rundown of guidelines to avoid injury from falling or flying objects in a manufacturing facility.

The first and best idea is to arrange schedules so that when overhead work is done, the area below is clear. This is not always possible in a busy facility, but every effort should be made to keep areas below open by using appropriate barricades and warning signs. Never allow anyone to work beneath a moving load.

All personnel should wear hard hats, and those hard hats should be carefully maintained. Some cleaning agents, as well as heat and sunlight, can weaken the materials and reduce the impact resistance of a hard hat. Make sure team members know not to store their hard hats in the back window of a vehicle where they’re prone to sunlight degradation.

Any materials stored overhead should be stacked carefully to avoid falling, sliding or collapse. If storing boxed material, observe the instructions on the carton regarding the maximum number that should be stacked.

Overhead work platforms should have toe boards to keep tools or materials from sliding off and endangering those below. All tools and materials should be secured, and overhead workers should be instructed not to put hand tools in their pockets, which creates a greater risk of the tool slipping out and falling. In certain longer-term situations, debris nets or canopies may be deployed. And work platforms or hoists should have appropriate safety rails and fall protection to protect both the overhead workers and those below.

Inspect hoists, wire rope, lifting chains and hooks before use to make sure all are in good condition, and never exceed the lifting capacity of a hoist.

But again, the very best way to prevent a falling or flying object accident is to keep the area below clear of personnel.

Questions about safety in the manufacturing workplace? Contact Consolidated Insurance.