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Quarries Can Improve Productivity and Safety Using Tools-at-Height Products.

By Pat McDevitt

Dropping a tool while working at height can have devastating consequences.

Imagine performing maintenance on a stacking conveyor 50 ft. in the air and a wrench slips out of your hand. Or imagine working on top of a mobile crushing plant only to have a socket slip out of your tool pouch and fall 20 ft. to the ground.

Anyone walking below has a fast-approaching problem. A wrench falling from a conveyor or a socket slipping out of the tool pouch could damage equipment as it ricochets on its way to the ground. But more importantly than damaged equipment, a falling tool could severely injure or kill someone.  

It’s scenarios like these that led Snap-on Industrial to develop its tools-at-height program. Many applications have tasks that involve maintenance being performed at height, and technicians need to use tools that are secured or tethered to prevent a hazard.

No. 1 Goal – Work-S­­ite Safety
The primary goal of any tools-at-height program is work-site safety. A wrench or socket falling off a conveyor, mobile crusher or scaffold that hits someone is going to cause injury. A larger, free-falling tool, such as a hammer, could kill. The risk of injury due to a falling tool is great. An employee injured is going to end up costing a company money in terms of lost productivity, workmen’s compensation claims and medical bills, and depending on the circumstances, the possibility of a lawsuit. Morale also is affected anytime someone is injured on the job.    

Equipment and machinery can be damaged from a falling tool. Remember that a falling tool isn’t necessarily going to drop straight down. All it takes is one ricochet to alter its course and endanger other equipment in the area. A socket falling from the height of a conveyor, for example, could ricochet off objects on the way down and damaging other infrastructure and equipment. Companies just can’t afford that loss due to a falling tool.

Tools Designed Solely For Height
Tools-at-height products have made a substantial contribution to improving site safety and efficiency by preventing hand tools from becoming dropped tools. A well-designed system not only includes a strategy to secure tools from falling when working at height, but provides accountability to prevent tool loss.

Drop-prevention mechanisms are fully integrated within Snap-on Industrial’s tools-at-height products. Coils and other fastening devices are built into the products at the manufacturer, not added as an assessor later. Standard tools-at-height kits come with as many as 600 hand and cordless power tools – all specially designed for work at height.

Lanyards, which can be attached to the operator’s wrist, belt, harness or other suitable site tether location, are the basis of the drop-prevention design. Although each tool is secure, lanyards give technicians unrestricted tool use and don’t impede mobility or compromise personal safety equipment. Each tool within the program is manufactured to allow a lanyard attachment, while ensuring that original functionality and quality is maintained. Several different types of lanyards are available to best work with specific tools.

Technicians are encouraged to follow these guidelines when working with tools at height:

  • Tools should be secured at all times during transit and in the work area.
  • The technician must be secured, via body harness, to a suitable anchorage point in the work area.
  • Tools up to 5 lb. may be attached by lanyard to the operator.
  • Tools weighing more than 10 lb. should be attached by lanyard to a suitable fixed point.
  • Ensure tool bag/pouch is attached using a chest strap or belt loops.
  • One lanyard hook should be attached and locked to an approved attachment point on technician’s safety harness, belt or wrist strap.
  • Other lanyard hook should be attached and locked to selected tool.
  • Before climbing or moving location, tools should be secured inside bag/pouch.

Pat McDevitt is manager, business development, at Kenosha, Wi.-based Snap-on Industrial. He can be reached at 262-656-6049 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..