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Ergodyne Tool Tethering

The New Dropped Object Standard Has Passed

Newsflash! In mid-July the Dropped Objects Standard 121-2018 was approved by ANSI (American National Standards Institute) and ISEA (International Safety Equipment Association). This new standard focuses on establishing minimum design, performance, and labeling requirements for product solutions that prevent falling objects and guidelines for testing that equipment. 


Trapping is the process of retrofitting a tool with a solid functional anchor point. Most tools do not have an anchoring point out of the box. If you will be working at heights, your tools need to be trapped and anchored to avoid tool drops and subsequent injuries. Anchors for tools must be attached to a solid structure that can easily support the weight of the tool and associated drop force (which can be hundreds of pounds depending on the tool and method of shock absorption).

One-Step tool attachments are traps created with a specific tool and application in mind. Examples of one-step solutions are slips for screwdrivers and hex keys, zipper pouches for mobile phones and tablets, mountable brackets for power tools, wraps for tape measures, etc.

Two-Step tool attachments involve two different solutions working in tandem – like securing a elastic loop tool tail with a self-adhering tape or shrink. Additional components could include web tool tails, coiled tool lanyards, detachable loops and carabiners.



Tethering is the process of securing a tool or piece of equipment to an anchor point using an approved retention device (like a lanyard). Tools under 5 lbs. can be tethered to a worker or structure using a variety of lanyards. Wrist Lanyards secure a lightweight tool to your _ _ _ _ _ … any guesses? (If you said anything other than “wrist” please go sit at the back of the class).

Coil Lanyards or Retractable Lanyards draw the length inward, reducing tangles and snag hazards. Traditional Lanyards are the most common option and can be used to tether small tools to a worker, or large tools and equipment (up to 80 lbs.) to a secure structural anchor point. Traditional Lanyards use a pre-determined length to secure tools and equipment.

Be aware that tools exceeding 5 lbs. should NEVER be secured to a worker. The resulting force can dislocate a wrist or shoulder, or result in loss of balance and a potential fall. Energy-absorbing lanyards are an effective means of reducing the dynamic force imposed on a body or other anchor resulting from a drop.


Topping refers to the various containers workers can use to contain and transport tools while working at heights. Tool Pouches and Tool Bags are usually fixed stationary containers secured to a worker to keep tools nearby and accessible.

Hoist buckets and Hoist Bags are used to transport tools and equipment to and from heights using pulleys and lifts and are generally not stationary.

Most hoist bags and buckets offer a variety of connection points – from swiveling snap hooks, D-rings, and swiveling carabiners, to simple webbing handles. Hoist buckets with a removable safety top can hold your tools in place during transport and reduces the risk of injury while hoisting tools and gear at-heights. Many heavy-duty hoist buckets can support a load of 100 – 150 lbs.

All types of tool containers should have some type of top enclosure to secure its contents. Many containers also have anchor points to tether tools. If a container does not have a top enclosure they MUST have anchor points to secure the contents.

The New Dropped Object Standard (as promised)

American National Standard for Dropped Object Prevention
Dropped objects standard 121-2018 approved

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