2020 Tool Tethers, Safety Tools and Knives

Trends in ... tool tethers

When dropped from height, even small objects such as hand tools can cause serious injuries to workers below. So how can these injuries be prevented? Experts from several leading safety product manufacturers told Safety+Health that tethering systems should be part of employers’ work-at-height programs.

“Tether systems aren’t just for tools,” said Nicole Novick, product manager at Radians. “They are also needed for accessories or personal items carried by workers to help them get their jobs accomplished. This means cellphones, tablets, tape measures and hard hats are all candidates for a tether.”

Matt Smith, product manager, technical products, Protective Industrial Products, said the release of the ANSI 121-2018 standard “finally provides some guidance to a manufacturer into how best to design tethering for the safety of the end user. It establishes design, testing and performance criteria for active systems used to prevent dropped objects in the workplace. This standard is the first of its kind to address equipment used to tether hand tools and other objects from falling from at-heights applications.”

Brent Velenchenko, product manager, prevention, at Ergodyne, believes “there are many directions tool tethering could go.”

He added, “We anticipate more movement toward low-profile lanyard designs that do not interfere with the task at hand, as well as increasingly specific solutions for particular trades, tool types and work environments. Designing with various trades and unique working scenarios in mind will ensure dropped object prevention not only increases worker safety, but does so in a way that is convenient and does not interfere with common tasks or other methods of tool storage.”

Safety pros and workers have a role to play, too. Velenchenko said it’s important for them to know “how to select the correct tool lanyard, how to correctly attach the tool to that lanyard and where to properly anchor it. Understanding the selection process for each of these factors is critical to keeping the worksite as safe and efficient as possible.”

Mathew Moreau, product manager, dropped tools and foreign material exclusion, at Pure Safety Group, said manufacturers are working to make choosing the right tethers even easier.

“Industry-specific trade kits are eliminating much of the tedious selection process for tool tethering products and pairing exactly what an employee might need for a specific job,” Moreau said, adding that “tool tethering has become more and more mainstream over the last few years.”

Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association

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