Did you know that a seemingly harmless object dropped from a height accelerates to a deadly speed? Your hard hat might not stop something as small as a bolt or nut dropped from a scaffold or another elevated work area. Tools and work materials used at high locations, such as scaffolds, pose deadly hazards.
Keeping high workplaces free of tools and materials might not be practical, but tying them off can prevent them from falling onto workers at lower levels. Compliance with federal and state safety standards is crucial, and familiarizing yourself with those rules might be a good idea, especially if your employer prioritizes profits over employee safety.
Reportedly, falling objects are near the top of the list of serious and fatal workplace injuries across all industries nationwide, including California.
Dropped objects are items that fall or could fall from a higher to a lower position. These could be any loose and unsecured objects. Reportedly, about one-third of all incidents involving dropped objects occur in mechanical, technical or design activities. However, almost 50% of such events result from human errors.
Causes of dropped objects
A falling object typically follows a string of incidents, such as wind, gravity, mechanical motion or heave, which can initiate the events that could ultimately lead to a falling object striking you if you work at a lower level. Other causes include inadequate inspection and hazard assessment, negligent maintenance and, sometimes, corrosion.
Types of dropped objects
Dropped objects classify as the following types:
- Dynamic: When an object falls as the result of applied force, such as knocking over stacked objects, collisions while moving loads or equipment, severe weather, and even the downdraft caused by a helicopter.
- Static: This happens when an object falls without applied force, such as gravity, vibration, corrosion or inadequate tethering.
You have the right to insist on the following safety precautions:
- Tethers: Lanyards for connecting tools to approved and secure anchor points.
- Anchor attachments: Installed attachment points on equipment, structures or workers as connections for lanyards.
- Tool Attachments: Installed attachment points on equipment and tools to serve as connection points for tethers.
- Bags and containers: Safe transport of equipment or tools is possible if the objects are in bags or containers.
Your rights to compensation
If you are suffering the consequences of a dropped object injury, you will likely be eligible for financial relief through the California workers’ compensation insurance program. Benefits will cover your medical expenses and lost wages. Like many other injured workers, you may choose to secure the services of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to navigate the benefits claims process on your behalf.