How to Prevent Dropped Objects By Tethering, Topping and Trapping

How to Prevent Dropped Objects By Tethering, Topping and Trapping


Welcome to Ergodyne's overview of Objects at Heights Safety. Today we will discuss solutions to actively prevent dropped objects on the jobsite.

In human fall protection manufacturer's use the ABC's to easily categorize the types of equipment used to protect workers against falling.

In dropped object prevention we use the 3 T's to categorize active engineering controls one can easily implement to prevent falling objects on the job.

Let's review these three categories and some examples of each.

Trapping is a term used to describe the installation of retrofit attachment points on tools and primary anchoring locations.

These retrofit attachments can adaptively be applied or "trapped" onto these tools and equipment prior to use.

Anchor attachments should be installed onto locations that are secure and never be intended for heavier tools if applied to the individual.

Tool attachments come in a variety of designs based on the tools they are intended for.

These "Tool Traps" should never compromise the integrity of the tool, imped the tool's primary function, or create a new safety hazard altogether.

They are available in one or two step applications:


  • One-Step Tool Attachments are straightforward "Traps" that install with a focused application and are typically intended for more specific tools: Slips that slide onto screw drivers and hex keys; brackets and wraps that fit specific power tools or tape measures; and sleeves that house cell phones or liquid containers are just some examples.
  • Two-step attachments involve two separate solutions combined into one attachment. "Tool Tails" are applied onto a tool and then "Trapped" by a tape or shrink to secure them.


Regardless of the type of attachment make sure it is rated by the manufacturer and labeled appropriately.

Tethering is the retention of the tools and equipment being used to the anchor points that hold them. This is often achieved through the use of a tool lanyard.

These lanyards should have the proper connections on each end for the tools and anchors being used. They should also be made with a shock absorbing design whenever possible.

As tool tethering has evolved a variety of tool lanyard styles have surfaced but most fall into five basic categories:


  • Wrist lanyards use the individual's wrist as an anchor point to minimize drop distance and snag hazards.
  • Coil lanyards and retractable lanyard designs draw the length back inward to minimize snag hazards as well.
  • Traditional lanyards are the most popular and use a predetermined length to tie off tools.
  • Specialty lanyards concentrate on specific equipment to tether.


Regardless of the type of tool tether make sure it is rated by the manufacturer and labeled appropriately.

The 3rd T, "Topping" consists of the containers workers use to transport tools and equipment to and from heights and store them while at heights.

There are two types of containers used:


  • Tool pouches and bags are typically carried on individuals to keep their contents at hand while working. These often remain stationary.
  • Hoist buckets and bags are transferred by a different means typically lifting them in a portable fashion to and from heights.


These containers regardless of type or mode of transportation should have a secure closure or "top" that can cover contents and prevent them from spilling if inverted.

All containers may have tethering points available to attach tool lanyards but if a container does not have a secure closure it must have these tethering points available.

Regardless of the type of container make sure it is rated by the manufacturer and labeled appropriately.