General Information

Falling (or dropped) object hazards exist when an object is dropped or falls from its previous static position under its own weight.  When this happens the potential to cause death, injury, or equipment damage exists.  Causes of falling objects include:

  • Poor housekeeping
  • Scrap and debris left aloft
  • Not inspecting the work area
  • Weather
  • Instability of objects being used at height
  • No lanyards on tools used at height
  • Improperly secured or inappropriate loads
  • Simultaneous operations
  • Carrying equipment while at height

Prior to beginning any task at height consider the potential for falling objects.   Visually inspect the work area for loose items and debris.  Check the equipment and structures in the work area to ensure tools,fasteners, small parts, etc. are in place and properly secured.  Always remain aware of other activities going on above, below and around you.

 To reduce the risk of falling objects from work being performed above, one or more of the following controls must be implemented: 

  • Limit the amount of tools and materials stored at height to only what is needed for the task;
  • Store tools and materials away from edges;
  • Store small parts in suitable storage containers;
  • Erecting toeboards on platforms and scaffolds a minimum of 3½ inches (9 centimeters) or greater in height and no more than a ¼-inch (0.64 centimeter) gap between the toeboard and the surface; using screens; or using guardrail systems to prevent objects from falling to a lower level;
  • Erecting canopy structures and keeping potential falling objects far enough from an edge, hole, or opening to prevent them from falling to a lower level; or
  • Barricading the area into which objects could fall, prohibiting employees from entering the barricaded area, and keeping objects far enough from an edge or opening to prevent them from falling to a lower level.
  • Wearing head protection as described in the “Head Protection” section of the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) procedure.

Other controls include tethering tools and equipment using wrist lanyards, belt/long tool lanyards or other safe means so that objects cannot be dropped to a lower level. 

When the work is complete remove all scrap, debris and loose items from the work area and dispose of properly before removing barriers or barricades.

Specific Requirements for Theaters 

When work is performed in theaters with grates, mesh platforms or mesh walking/working surfaces where there is the potential for small items to fall through the openings, plywood shall be placed on the walking/working surface to provide falling object protection.  This includes work that is performed from ladders on these platforms.