Preventing workers from falling is important, and continues to be a leading cause of death in all industries. Preventing injury or death due to falling and dropped objects is often an afterthought.
Dropped objects caused 247 deaths in 2015, five percent of fatalities. This is an increase from 243 deaths due to dropped objects in 2014. No industry is immune from this hazard. Safety professionals must incorporate all hazards of work at-height into their fall protection, fall prevention, and at-heights safety plans.
There is no specific "dropped objects" or "objects at-height" standard. In the United States, but the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mentions the topics in a few regulations:
Scaffolds, 1926.451(h) : "Falling object protection"
Fall Protection, 1926.501(c) : "Protection from falling objects"
Steel Erection, 1926.759(a) : "Securing loose items aloft"
Though there are few specific standards, it is important to keep in mind that the General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1) of the OSHA Act of 1970 states that, "each employer shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees."
Many state plan states, including California, mention this topic:
Cal/OSHA 3273(e) : "Protection from falling objects"
Cal/OSHA 1511(a) : "Proper precautions have been taken to protect the employee while doing such work"
Another angle for standards related to dropped objects is equipment performance standards. Currently, not all equipment used for preventing dropped objects is created equal. In the past year, several leading safety equipment manufacturers have been working in coordination with the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) to develop a standard for dropped object solutions. The working name for ISEA Standard 121 is "American National Standard for Dropped Object Prevention Solutions," and it is in the draft stage. The goal of the standard is to provide manufacturers guidelines for consistent classification, testing procedures, and performance requirements for dropped object solutions. Once finalized, it is likely that the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) will adopt the standard.