Product Focus: Safety tools and knives

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‘Convenience breeds compliance’

Tool tethers, lanyards and hoist buckets are commonplace at construction sites. Here, industry insiders share developments on these safety tools and what you need to know.

Coming up

“New technology for safety standards with regard to the proper use and manufacturing of tool tethers and lanyards is on the horizon for the coming year,” said John Salentine, vice president of Ventura, CA-based Hammerhead Industries.

Salentine added that his company and other industry professionals are working with the American National Standards Institute to set standards for this group of critical safety products. “Once published, these standards will guide safety engineers, as well as manufacturers, in making safer tethering choices,” he said.

Salentine cautioned that until these standards are published, safety engineers should keep in mind that sellers of personal protective equipment and personal fall arrest safety systems tend to fill out their product lines by importing a basic tool tether in two or three sizes. “When tool tethers are ordered without specifications beyond the weight of the tool, chances are good that the tether may not be appropriate,” he said.

Avoid this mistake

Using the wrong tool for the job at hand can be hazardous. Perhaps even more dangerous, though, is using an improvised tool. “One of the most common mistakes we see and hear about is the use of inferior and unsafe makeshift solutions, like, say, a plastic 5-gallon hardware store bucket in place of proper hoist bucket that has been third-party tested and certified to hold up to the stress of heavy tools,” said Nate Bohmbach, associate product director for St. Paul, MN-based Ergodyne. “Those flimsy handles on a 5-gallon plastic bucket just aren’t up for the task and shouldn’t ever be used for that purpose.”

Helpful tips

Salentine points out a number of characteristics to look for in a safe tool tether or lanyard, including more stretch for a greater range of use, a built-in safety margin beyond the breaking point, and woven integrated elastic that absorbs recoil shock without “bounce back.”

Regarding hoist buckets and tool pouches, Bohmbach advocates simplicity. “Convenience breeds compliance. If the solution is easy, and makes a job easier as a result, that’s important,” he said. “The solution is more likely to get used.”

Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association.

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