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Choosing tether and anchor lanyards

tool tethers and lanyards for working at heights
Having an effective tool tethering system can minimise risk from dropped objects

Preventing tools and equipment being dropped from height is a crucial element in any working at heights safety program. With falling objects causing 122 deaths in Australia from 2012–2016 and 3515 compensation claims in 2014–15, choosing tether and anchor tool lanyards can add value to an organisation’s working at heights program.

Factoring in the impact that lost or irretrievable tools have on productivity, job delays and replacement of equipment also adds additional time and financial costs to businesses.

LINQ Height Safety Gear national category manager, Paul Bozkurt, recommends that a tool tethering system is used by anyone working at heights.

“Any trade or task involving working at heights and the need to use tools, or where a hard hat may be worn, should use tool lanyards and tethers. This includes scaffolders, rope access workers, tower workers and roof workers, down to plumbers, electricians and carpenters working at heights,” he said.

He also recommended using the LINQ Height Safety tool drop calculator as part of any working at heights risk assessment.

The tool drop calculator is modelled off a matrix that calculates the energy of a falling object based on its mass and the height it falls from.

It then simplifies this to a likely outcome in the event of the tool hitting someone. Outcomes can range from a minor injury through to severe injuries and fatalities.

How to tether tools:

Tethering is the act of attaching tools or equipment to an anchor point to prevent them from falling and potentially causing injuries or worse.

There are three main considerations when tethering tools:

  • The tether point
  • The anchor point
  • Tool lanyards which connect the anchor and tether point

As not all tools have an attachment point, LINQ has developed tether points that can be fitted to the tool without damaging it or limiting its use.

“Our wire tool socks can clamp over a screwdriver or specific tool,” explained Paul.

“That will then allow you to attach it to any of the snap hook tool lanyard options.”

Lanyards are then attached to anchor points. Although there are no specific rules or standards, LINQ does have guidelines for choosing anchor points.

There are currently no standards in Australia for tool lanyards

“Applications are broad and we would encourage people to exercise common sense in what would be an ideal attachment point, particularly on a person,” said Paul.

“Belt loops on pants or jeans should not be used as an anchor point and you should only tether tools up to 2.5 kilos to a waist or tool belt.

“Heavier tools and objects should be attached to a secure, load-rated anchor. A proper risk assessment should be conducted to identify the suitability of the structure to be used as an anchor point, as well as potential impacts to the surrounding environment.”

A wrist strap can also be used as an anchor point for light tools, although harnesses are a better choice for heavier tools.

“LINQ wrist straps are rated between 0.6 and 0.8 kilos,” said Paul.

“Any more than this places significant discomfort on the user and poses a greater risk of fatigue if not used correctly.”

“Harnesses are a safer attachment point due to the webbing being stronger. You can attach to any of our LINQ harnesses using specific tool lanyards that allow you to choke around the webbing of the harness.”

Some of the harnesses also have built-in tool belt loops for direct attachment.

ANSI standards to ensure maximum safety

There are currently no standards in Australia for tool lanyards, but LINQ has adopted the new American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard as a baseline for products.

“It is the only standard of any industry that the world will see in this area. Having it to refer to is a great thing in ensuring our products have been formally tested,” said Paul.

The ANSI/ISEA 121-2018 standard includes design, testing, performance and labelling requirements for tool tethering systems.

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