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Avoiding falling objects

April 1, 2009

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Falling or flying objects on a worksite can expose workers to relatively minor injuries, such as cuts and abrasions, as well as more serious injuries, such as concussions or blindness. Working beneath scaffolds or other areas where overhead work is being performed puts workers at risk from falling objects. Flying objects become a concern when workers are using power tools or performing tasks that involve pushing, pulling or prying.

OSHA recommends the following precautions to mitigate hazards from falling or flying objects.

General

  • Always wear hard hats when work is being performed overhead or when other work conditions call for it.
  • Stack materials securely to prevent them from sliding, falling or collapsing.

Overhead work

  • Secure all tools and materials to prevent them from falling on people below.
  • Use toe boards or guardrails on scaffolds to prevent objects from falling. Alternately, use debris nets or catch platforms to grab falling objects.

Machine use

  • When working with machines or power tools that can produce flying particles, wear safety glasses, goggles or face shields.
  • Inspect tools prior to use, and be sure all guards are in place and in good working condition.
  • Allow only properly trained workers to use power-actuated tools.

Cranes/hoists

  • Whenever possible, avoid working under moving loads.
  • Erect barricades and post warning signs at hazardous work zones.
  • Inspect cranes and hoists prior to use to ensure all components are in good working order, including wire rope, lifting hooks and chains.
  • Never exceed the lifting capacity of cranes and hoists.

Compressed air

  • Reduce compressed air for cleaning to 30 psi, and always use proper personal protective equipment and guarding.
  • Never clean clothing with compressed air.

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