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Fall Protection for Tools – ABC’s of Fall Protection

Tools dropped from a height pose a risk to everyone in the area. Through direct impact or deflection a dropped tool or object becomes a bullet or shrapnel with the potential of creating life-changing injury or fatality.

Utilizing fall protection for tools – anchors and connectors specifically designed for attachment tools – the risk of serious injury is SIGNIFICANTLY reduced.

Dropped Object Hazards

A dropped object hazard can be anything like a small tool or box of nails that can be accidentally kicked or blown off a at-height ledge is a hazard. Less obvious hazards include tools stored in pockets, or pooches or bags with non-secure closure.

There are two primary classifications of fall object incidents: direct impacts and deflections.

Direct Impact

Depending on the size and weight of an object, a direct impact could easily reach fatal levels – even when wearing a hardhat.

Example: a 8.3 lb. wrench dropped from just 50 feet creates 1660 lb. or 7384 Newtons of force.


Deflections are even potentially more dangerous because of the unpredictability of the tool and the wide area of danger.

Example: An object (8.3 lb. Wrench) dropped from height could potentially deflect itself hundreds of feet outside of a designated “Drop Zone” and injury unsuspecting and unrelated victims.

How can I minimize Dropped Object Hazards?

Don’t store anything near a leading edge.

Use Passive systems like guardrails, mesh netting, screens, floor coverings and tool canopies

Use tool restraints like: transport buckets, tool holsters and pouches to keep tools in place.

Use tool arrest systems to anchor tools inplace – keeping them nearby and ready for use.

Use barricades and zoned-off areas to keep people away.

Dropped Object Prevention Basics

Similar to a personal fall arrest system (PFAS), dropped object prevention boils down to an anchor, body support and a connector.

A comprehensive dropped object prevention system must also include those basic components: Tool attachment points, Connectors and Anchorages.

Tool Attachment Points

The attachment point is the area where the connector attaches to the tool. The attachment point plays the same role a harness would in a PFAS.

Once a tool contains an attachment point, it is considered “tether-ready”.

Examples Include:

  • Quick Spin + Quick Ring Attachment
  • D-ring Cord
  • D-ring + Quick-wrap Tape
  • Tool Cinch


Just like a lanyard or SRL, tools require something to connect them to the anchorage point.

Examples Include:

  • Tool Tethers
  • Hard Hat Tethers


These are the final component of a comprehensive dropped object prevention plan.

The anchor is the point where the tether-ready tool and connector attach to secure the tool. There are anchorage points for off the body (tools over 5lbs.) and attachment points for use on the body (tools less than 5lbs.).

Examples Include:

  • Tool Belts & Belt Loops
  • Holsters
  • Wristbands

3M Fall Protection for Tools (Formerly Python Safety)

Objects dropped from height was the #3 highest cause of work-related injuries in 2015 and killed 519 workers. OSHA receives over 100 “struck by falling object or equipment” recordables each day.

Fall protection for tools is no gimmick. Object drop prevention systems help to prevent thousands of work-related incidents from happening each year.

Attachment Points

Allows for almost ANY tool to be make tether-ready in seconds.

Tool tethers

Suitable for retraining tools up to 80lbs.

Tool Pouches

Specifically designed to contain objects and prevent them from escaping until ready for use

Tool Holsters

Standard and specialized belt or harness holsters designed to store popular hand tools and other common objects used while working at-height


Works with most lanyard, makes it very easy to tie-off tools and work at height.

Spill Control Buckets

Includes closure systems to prevent dropped tools or objects

Tool Belts

Compatible with a wide selection tool belt holsters, lanyard and pouches.

Learn more about the ABC’s of Fall Protection

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Descent & Rescue – ABC’s of Fall Protection

Employers MUST have a rescue plan which either: promptly rescues a worker in the event of a fall or allows the employee to rescue themselves. Executing this plan may require a specialized rescue system designed for the application.

Rescue and Descent Devices

These systems include ascenders and descenders which lower the worker to safety if needed.

Rescue and descent devices allow a worker in trouble to be lowered back down to safety.

Confined Space Entry & Retrieval

When entering limited spaces, special equipment is often required to aid in rescue and recovery.

Confined space entry and decent can range from simple to complex based on the: size, shape and direction of your confined space.

What to consider with Rescue and Descent devices

There is no perfect rescue system for all scenarios, some are specific while others are a jack-of-all trades.

On top of all the technical considerations, the level of training required to use a piece of safety equipment should be looked at. Typically automatic devices require less training but are also less versatile than manual systems.

Consider if the device should be intuitive and usable by anyone or if the specific personnel should be trained for rescue.

Automatic or User-controlled Descent?

These systems require the least training and knowledge by the user. Some systems allow the user or a co-worker to control the descent for added versatility.

User or co-worker controlled descent

These systems require another worker to descend, connect to and rescue the fallen victim.

Maximum height of operation

Different devices have different maximum usable height based on design and performance.

Maximum number of users

Descent and rescue systems can typically accommodate one or two users at the same time.

3M Fall Protection Rescue and Descent Devices

There are a number of options when it comes to rescue and descent devices. Some are automatic, others are manual but they are all specialized equipment designed for the prompt rescue and decent.

Rollgliss™ R550

Allows for controlled descent, evacuation or the versitility of assisted rescue with lifting capabilites.

Rollgliss™ R350

Very controlled lowering system (finger + thumb) which is great for hauling. Ratios can be modified on the fly.

Rollgliss™ RPD

A simple, safe rescue system which allows for raising, lowering and positioning during normal work activities. Includes a speed-sensing lock as another layer of safety.

Rollgliss™ Rescumatic

Allows for safe, automatic controlled descent from overhead heights like buildings, towers and cranes. Safety lowers one or two workers at a comfortable controlled rate.

Rollgliss™ Fisk

A simple yet effective decent control system built for durability and thermal capacity.

Operators can tie off system and position themselves at specific heights.

Rollgliss™ R250

A pole rescue system allows for quick and prompt removable of a worker in danger. The system can be transported in a backpack and setup in minutes.

Sealed Tension Limiter

Connects between a suspended worker and a winch line. If the worker becomes entangled, the system deploys to minimize falling forces on worker and cues crane operator to STOP.


Simple escape device built for durability and easy of use.

Choosing the right confined space equipment

When entering limited spaces, special equipment is often required to aid in rescue and recovery.

Confined space entry and decent can range from simple to complex based on the: size, shape and direction of your confined space.

When choosing your confined space equipment, pay attention to the direction of your confined space. Also consider whether or not your system will be used by a specific person or a number of employees.

Vertical or Horizontal?

Vertical systems are ideal for vertical entrances like manholes, where as horizontal systems are ideal for side entrances like entering a tank.

Complexity of the system

There are one-piece tripods which are easy to setup and fit a variety of applications.

Alternatively, there are more complex systems which require more setup time but offer a bit more versatility with different arm sizes and base options.


Temporary jobs will require lightweight and portable confined space equipment.

Permanent systems (davit and base) are ideal for high-traffic access areas like a vat or tank.

Mechanical Systems

Beyond simple lifeline type and length, there are mechanical devices which include man-rated winches and SRL’s

Confined Space Entry and Retrieval Systems

There are a number of systems specifically engineered with features for specific applications:

Davit Arm Systems

Preconfigured davit systems designed for flexability and can adapt to a variety of confined space entry/retrieval applications.

Davit and Base Components

Create your own system with a variety of davit masts, extensions and based for specific applications.

Tripod Systems

Ideal for standard manhole-type confined spaces. They are easy to setup, relocate and use.


Used to retrieve an incapacitated worker. This is the most critical part of a rescue system.

Fall arrest post/davit Systems

For use with up to three workers on top of transformers or other vertical platforms. Includes an optional davit for rescue operations.

Pole hoist systems

Attaches with a carabiner to a suitable anchor point, allowing work in any direction.

Tank pod systems

Designed to mount to tank entrance-ways with existing hardware.

Can be used with a variety of winders, ladder systems and fall arrest devices.

Vehicle hitch systems

Designed to install into a hitch receiver of vehicle and accommodate offset davit masts.

Learn more about the ABC’s of Fall Protection

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Connectors – ABC’s of Fall Protection

Connectors are the middle man between the Anchor and the Body Support. A connector attaches a worker’s harness to a secure attachment point, making a complete personal fall arrest system (PFAS).

Connectors intended for individuals typically include a shock absorber to reduce the falling forces transmitted to the wearer.

Alternatively, position/travel restricting connectors are simple lanyard designed to reduce the potential of entering a hazardous area.

Types of Connectors

There are three types of connections in the ABC’s of fall protection. Lanyards and SRL’s connect the anchor to the body, both have thier strengths and weaknesses- depending on the application. Vertical lifeline systems are ideal for LARGE work areas that lack consistent anchorage points.


There are lanyards which control where a worker can go, and there are shock-absorbing lanyards which significantly reduce the falling forces experienced during a fall.

Self-retracting Lifelines (SRL’s)

SRL’s have the advantage of keeping the lifeline tight; keeping it out of the way while keeping the worker safe.

SRL’s keep the fall distance short, minimize trip hazards and may improve productivty.

Vertical Lifeline Systems

Similar to Horizonal Lifeline Systems, these systems provide a continous point of attachment across a large workarea.

However, vertical lifeline systems are for VERTICAL climbing environments like long ladders.

Choosing the right Lanyard or SRL

When choosing between a shock-absorbing lanyard and an SRL, it is important to consider the following:

Lanyard / Lifeline Materials

Webbing – Ideal for use indoors or in less-harsh environments where risk of abrasion and high-heat are low.

Cable / Kevlar®/Nomex® – Ideal for use in harsh environments where extra durability is required due to abrasion or high-heat.

Single-leg or Twin-leg Configurations

Single-leg – Suitable for a SINGLE anchorage point and work withing a specific range of movement.

Twin-leg – A protective connection which allows the worker to move from one anchor point to the next.

Fall Clearance

More than 17 ½ feet – Use and energy absorbing lanyard or self-retracting lifeline

Less than 17 ½ feet – Use an Self-retracting Lifeline.

3M Fall Protection Lanyards

Luckily there are many types and series of lanyards made by 3M Fall Protection (formerly Capital Safety DBI-SALA). Some lanyard are specialized and others offer general fall arrest. Many lanyards offer different levels of protection, functionality and easy of use.


World’s lightest shock absorber, water-repellant and abrasion resistant.


Allows for complete freedom of movement by expanding or contracting from 4-1/2ft to 6ft.


Designed for environments when the only option is to tie-off at your feet.


Built for the abuses tie-back use and eliminate the need for seperate anchors.


Retracts and expands smoothly from 2-1/2 to 6ft.

EZ-stop™ 3

One-piece lanyard with integrated shock-absorber, reduces weight and size while improving comfort.


For pole climbers, allows for effortless adjustment and “cynches” around a pole during a “cut-out”.

PRO Stretch™

An economical lanyard which expands and contracts from 4-1/2ft to 6ft.

PRO Stop™

One-piece shock absorbing lanyard with integrated energy absorber.

PRO Pack™

Compliance, comfort and safety you can afford.

3M Fall Protection Self-retracting Lifelines

There are SRL’s built for speed, others are designed to withstand harsh environments. Some SRL’s are easy to use, others are more complex but offer lots of versatility.


Heavy-duty SRL’s is built to withstand the harshest environments

Smart Lock™

Minimizes lockups and simplifies inspections. Built for productivity and convenience.


Stainless steel components, anti-ratcheting brake system and a semi-sealed design.


Easy to use and built for direct connection to a harness

Nano-Lok Edge™

Designed for foot level tie-off and leading-edge applications.


Allows for direct attachment from SRL to back of harness, anti-ratcheting braking system limits falling forces.


Economical self-retracting lifeline

Choosing the right Vertical Lifeline System

Deciding on the right Vertical Lifeline System can be overwhelming. With so many types, options, components and models it can be hard to decide which system is ideal for you.

Large vertical environments require specialized systems and can be permanent or temporary.

Permanent systems need to be able to withstand the elements and require corrosion resistant materials, while temporary systems are often lightweight and easy to transport.

Flexible Cable Ladder Safety Systems

A flexible cable ladder system is a permanent fall protection system designed for well-used access structures like: ladders, towers or tanks.

A worker connects to a sleeve which allows them to climb up and down the entire structure. In the event of a fall the sleeve will lock and allow the user to regain footing.

Rigid Rail Ladder Safety Systems

Similar to the flexible cable ladder safety system, the rigid rail system allows the worker to connect to the system and climb up and down the entire distance of the structure.

In the event of a fall, the system will lock and allow the user to regain footing.

Climb Assist Ladder Systems

Ideal for EXTREMELY tall structures, this system will partially support the weight of the user to reduce fatigue.

Climb assist ladder systems are available for both indoor and out door use.

Cable & Synthetic Rope Grabs

Portable systems have the advantage of being both lightweight and easy to move.

These systems allow users to move up and down the entire length of the lifeline without having to find new attachment points along the way.


Synthetic blended rope lifelines offer fantastic abrasion and UV resistance.

Alternatively, cable lifelines provide greater durability and are equipped to withstand harsh environments.

Winch/SRL anchor-type ladder safety system

Ideally for use in manhole entry/retrieval where a permanent fixed ladder exists.

The system attaches to the top of the ladder and provides an anchorage point for a winch or 3-way SRL.

3M Fall Protection Vertical Lifeline Systems

Providing a professional continuous anchorage connectors on a extremely tall structure can be difficult. Luckily, 3M Fall Protection (formerly DBI-SALA) offers a number of excellent vertical lifeline systems to meet your application.


A user attaches to a sleeve which follows them as they climb, in the result of a fall the system locks and the user stays in place to regain footing.

Railok 90™

Consists of top and bottom gates, rail joints and multiple mounting options.


Simple mobile/static rope grabs with integrated shock-absorber


A system of lifelines, pulleys and counterweights designed to aid workers in long climbs


A vertically suspended cable which runs the entire length of the climbing area and locks into place in the event of a fall.


Ideal for automatic hands-free operation or manual operation. Allows the user to fix the device in place for portable positioning and restraint.


A complete line of manual and mobile rope grabs and lifelines.

Learn more about the ABC’s of Fall Protection

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Body Support – ABC’s of Fall Protection

What we mean by “Body Support” is: any fall protection equipment which is worn directly by the worker. This type of equipment is responsible for maintaining the worker’s weight and position.

Full body harnesses equally distribute the forces of a fall throughout the shoulders, thighs, chest and pelvis. All fall arrest harnesses include a dorsal (back) d-ring for connecting to an anchor.

Harnesses can include additional D-rings to help with positioning, retrieval/decent or ladder climbing. Harnesses are the only acceptable form of personal fall arrest and can vary based on who you are what what you intend to do with your harness.

Two types of Body Support

Body support can come in the form of a harness, body belt or work-seat.

A body belt is ideal when there is 0% CHANCE OF FREE-FALL and a harness is ideal when that chance of fall exists. A work-seat MUST be used with a full-body harness.

Full Body Harnesses

Honestly, a harness is usually the single most important decision you can make when building your personal fall arrest system (PFAS).

The right harness will improve productivity and boost morale. They come in many flavors based on your application and industry.

Body Belts & Work-seats

A fall protection belt is ideally for positioning, restraining or other situations with 0% chance of a free-fall.

Work-seats and slings are useful for inspection work, window washing and other maintenance.

Choosing the right type of Harness

There are five main categories of harnesses, they include:

General Fall Arrest

All harnesses rated for personal fall arrest will include a back D-ring; this is enough for general fall arrest.

Ladder Climbing

Ladder climbing harnesses include a front d-ring which allows for permanent connection to a ladder.

Work Positioning

Work positioning harnesses include a side D-ring on each hip which are used with positioning lanyards to suspend the worker and allow use of both hands.

Confined Space – Entry/Rescue

Entry and Rescue harnesses have a D-ring on each shoulder, keeping the wearer upright while in confined spaces.

Descent & Suspension

These harnesses usually have a front D-ring that interacts with decent controls.

Specialty Harnesses

These include arc-flash, mining, oil & gas, reflective, Personal Flotation Devices and other unique styles of personal fall arrest.

3M Fall Protection Full Body Harnesses

3M Fall Protection (formerly Capital Safety DBI-SALA) a harness for whatever your needs. From the economical full body harnesses for general fall arrest to the specialized equipment build for tower climbers; we’ve got the harness for you.


Lightweight harnesses ideal for those using personal SRL’s.

ExoFit NEX™

Gets an ‘A+’ when it comes to: comfort, function and durability.

ExoFit™ XP

Designed to maximize comfort. These harnesses include removable shoulder/back pad for easy washing.


The ORIGINAL comfort harness.


Durable, convenient and comfortable.


Performance + Safety at an unbeatable value.


Reliable fall protection at an economical value.

Choosing the right body belt or work-seat

There are a number of categories to consider when choosing the right body belt or work-seat for you:

Work positioning

Work positioning belts include a side D-ring on each hip which will hold and sustain the worker in a specific location.


Restraint belts feature a single back D-ring which contains a worker within a specified area.

Restraint belts are typically used to protect leading edges and concrete work construction.

Back & Tool Support

Typically these belts are built to provide greater back support and offer more tool storage on the go.

While these belts sometime feature extra D-rings, they usually improve worker comfort and provide a spot to attach tools and equipment.

Suspension Work-seats

Suspension work-seats are designed to hold and sustain a worker without ANY POSSIBILITY of a free fall.

Work-seats cannot be used alone, must be paired with separate harness & backup lifeline.

3M Fall Protection Body Belts & Work-seats

There are a number of different-type and sized body belts for fall protection:

Tongue-buckle Belts

Easy to fit and can accommodate a large variety of sizes, shapes and clothing options.

Lineman Belts

Specifically designed by linemen for linemen. Designed to provide comfort, freedom of movement and be easy-to-use for most pole-climbing applications.

Derrick Belts

For those working on monkey or tubing board, they are designed to attach to a variety of derrick-style harnesses and feature front rings for use with a positioning lanyard.

Mining Belts

Specifially designed for use in mining applications and usually include straps that hold batteries for helmet lights.

Work Seats

Work-seats or “Bosun chairs” have come a long way and are now available in many styles– from web-sling seats to rigid applewood seats.

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Anchors – ABC’s of Fall Protection

Anchors are a secure connection point for your harness. They come in many shapes and sizes depending on who you are and what you intend to do. For example, a beam anchor may be used in facilities with plenty of I-beams.

All fall protection anchors must be independent and capable of supporting 5,000 lbs per worker attached or maintain a 2:1 safety factor. Anchors must be located high enough for a worker to avoid contact with a lower level should she fall.

Anchorage Connectors Vs. Horizontal Lifelines Vs. Access Systems

There are three main categories of Anchors: Anchorage Connectors, Horizontal Lifelines & Access Systems.

Anchorage Connectors

An anchorage connector connects to a structure to provide a secure point of attachment where work is occurring.

Jump to information on Anchorage Connectors

Horizontal Lifelines

These are large safety systems used to protect workers operating in a large area that lacks continuous attachment points.

Horizontal lifelines are much more convenient and drastically improve worker productivity in this type of work.

Learn more about Horizontal Lifelines

Access Systems

Access systems are typically custom built fall protection solutions built to surround large equipment that often requires work at height.

Examples of equipment which may need an Access System would be: rail cars, aircraft or other large vehicles.

Show me more about Access Systems

What to consider when choosing an anchorage connector

Anchorage connectors can be hard to sort because there are so many unique designs for a specific job. When choosing an anchorage connector consider the following:

Structure and Attachment

the structure you are attaching to and attachment type required.

Portable or Permanent

whether or not the installation will be permanent or needs portability

Fixed or Mobile

Do you need freedom of movement, or can you be limited to a specific workspace

Durability, ease of use and strength

All connecting components must be appropriately rated for your application.

3M Fall Protection Anchorage Connectors

The right anchorage connector depends largely on the structure you are attaching to. There are anchors for steel, concrete, roofs or specialty structures (like an aircraft).

Tie-off Adapters

Many all-purpose anchors are simply choked-off to the structure and provide an safe tie-off point


Self-locking carabiners securely attach one component to another, keeping gear firmly attached to one another.

Anchors for Steel

Provides connection points that easily attach to I-beams or other steel structures.

Anchors for Concrete

Durable anchors which attach to concrete walls, floors, decks and other concrete structures.

Anchors for Roofs

Specifically designed to provide safe attachment to roofs without damaging the structure.

Specialty Anchors

Uniquely built for difficult anchorage structures.

What to consider when choosing an horizontal lifeline system

These are large safety systems used to protect workers operating in a large area which does not have secure attachment points. Horizontal lifelines are much more convenient and drastically improve worker productivity in this type of work.

Horizontal lifelines can be temporary or permanent; but either way there are a number of things to consider when choosing the right system for you:

Anchorage Structure Type

I-beams, rebar, roofs and concrete columns all may require specialized equipment.

It is critical you choose a system precision engineered for the application and structure it is to be attached to.

Lifeline Type

Different types of lifelines have a major impact on your horizontal lifeline system.

Ease of use, installation, longevity and fall clearance are all directly affected by this decision.

Clearance Requirements

The distance between the work area and the next obstruction is called “fall clearance”.

It is fatally important your system maintains proper fall clearance at all times or risk serious injury to personnel.

Number of Users

Consider how many people you need and choose a system which can accommodate that number.

Some horizontal lifeline systems can support up to 6.

3M Fall Protection Horizontal Lifelines (HLL)

Horizontal lifelines are separated by series and each have their own strengths and weaknesses. Systems are sold complete or by the piece. HLL’s are extremely flexible and provide a secure point of attachment across large horizontal work areas.


Extremely easy to install, remove and store for later. Eliminates large and bulky cable coils


Lightweight, easy to install and portable horizontal lifelines. Ideal for maintenance, bridge work and general applications.


Incorporates a modular multi-base design that accommodates a wide range of steel and concrete beams. Reaches up to 60 ft.

SecuraSpan™ Fasten-in-Place

Fully engineered to provide and overhead tie-off point and can be used with different bases.

SecuraSpan™ Pour-in-Place

Designed for installation on column tops, this system provides an overhead tie-off point during the decking process.


A energy absorber and wedge grip which can be used to customize any existing system.


Installs in seconds without any special tools or equipment. Ideal for maintenance, bridge work and manufacturing.

How are access systems tailored to meet your needs?

Access systems are typically custom built fall protection solutions built to surround large equipment that often requires work at height. Examples of equipment which may need an Access System would be: rail cars, aircraft or other large vehicles.

Depending on your job, you may require a standard system or something that can be adjusted to meet your needs. There are standard designs which accommodate a large variety of applications and environments, give us a call and we will determine if an a standard access system is right for you.

Learn more about the ABC’s of Fall Protection