What Causes Objects to Fall at Work?
When objects fall at work, there can be many reasons.
Unsafe Working Conditions
A workplace can be rendered unsafe when an employer takes shortcuts, tries to save money, does not follow consistent inspections and maintenance of equipment, or does not oversee the property owner’s or manager’s work. Sometimes, they will disregard safety guidelines or not provide safety equipment to save money.
Careless behavior can cause falling object injuries. A vendor, contractor, or another worker may not take safety precautions when handling objects from above. They may disregard workers below them to get a job done quickly and with the least effort. They may be tired or reckless and not care about others’ safety.
Workers will sometimes skirt procedures or processes to get a job done ahead of schedule or shorten their workday. For example, they may believe that they do not have to follow every exact step of a prescribed material-handling maneuver. Taking shortcuts is never a good idea in the workplace.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has guidelines to lessen and prevent workplace hazards, including falling objects. Workers may try to get around these guidelines by changing standards or not requiring workers to follow the exact guidelines. The result is often a severe accident.
Failing to Secure Objects
Objects that are being moved or that remain stationary above workers need to be adequately secured at all times. Securing objects is also essential while moving them on a crane, forklift, hoist, or boom.
Materials or supplies must be stacked properly to ensure they do not move or fall below. This is especially critical on construction sites and warehouses.
Accidentally Dropping Objects
Sometimes, workers fail to hold onto a tool or equipment they are using. For example, a worker on scaffolding could drop tools, paint cans, or other materials where they could seriously injure someone. Gravitational forces are powerful.
Lack of Training
An employer may not fully train an employee on a specific piece of equipment or procedure. Sometimes, workers will use machinery or material-transport devices they do not know how to operate. Improper training and lack of skills can lead to serious injuries.
Overly heavy loads can fall off a transport device or cause it to flip, roll, or tip backward. Too heavy of a load can also cause a rack, shelf, lift, scaffold, or other holding devices to collapse, hurting workers underneath.
Not Using Safety Devices
Many safety devices, such as screens, toeboards, nets, and guardrails, are used on job sites specifically to stop or catch falling objects or debris. In addition, cinches and other equipment can help keep tools and machinery tethered to a person or stationary object. Lastly, hardhats and other personal protective equipment are designed to keep workers safe from falling objects.
It is not unheard of that a piece of equipment is defective or fails while in use and causes objects to fall. Sometimes, a defective ladder or scaffolding can cause a person to fall. Faulty materials or parts and malfunctioning equipment that lead to a structural collapse or breakdown can also lead to severe injury or death.
Lack of Warnings
Construction sites, warehouses, manufacturing floors, and other work areas where objects could fall must be marked with warning signs, barricades, cordoned-off zones, and audible or visual warnings on equipment.