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ANSI/ISEA 121-2018: Standard for Dropped Object Prevention Solutions

“At Guardian we are committed to providing 360 degrees of height safety. Ensuring tools and equipment are secure is a critical part of our mission to keep everyone on the jobsite safe. The ANSI/ISEA 121-2018 standard is the platform upon which we build our industry leading Dropped Object Prevention line.”

Guardian, 1-800-466-6385,

Each year on U.S. worksites, falling objects cause thousands of injuries ranging from minor (like cuts and bruises) to major (broken bones, paralysis and death). The greater the drop height, the greater the landing force. According to a Dropped Object Prevention Scheme[1] (DROPS) calculator shared by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)[2], an object weighing only one pound can cause serious to severe injuries if it falls 300 feet. A ten-pound object falling the same height can be deadly. Measuring tapes, hammers and other hand tools, loose material, bricks, small parts and cans of paint are among items that fall on construction sites, at oil and gas facilities and in other industrial locations. In a well-publicized 2014 incident in Jersey City, New Jersey, a worker dropped a tape measure while unclipping it from his belt. The item fell 50 floors – at an estimated 140 miles an hour – and killed another worker who was at ground level. In addition to employees, bystanders and other individuals are also at risk from injury due to falling objects.

About the standard

ANSI/ISEA 121-2018, American National Standard for Dropped Object Prevention Solutions, establishes minimum design, performance, testing and labeling requirements for solutions that reduce dropped objects incidents in industrial and occupational settings. Dropped objects include hand tools, instrumentation, small parts, structural components and other items that have to be transferred and used at heights. These objects have the opportunity of becoming dropped objects potentially resulting in struck-by injury or fatality or damage to equipment. This standard focuses on preventative solutions actively used by workers to mitigate these hazards. It was developed by the International Safety Equipment Association’s (ISEA) Dropped Objects working group, in conjunction with industry stakeholders. It is the first of its kind to address equipment used to tether and/or contain hand tools, components, structure and other objects from falling from at-heights applications.

Hard hats and other types of protective equipment can help minimize the severity of a falling objects’ impact. More prevention-focused measures, like netting and toe boards are also used. However, ANSI/ISEA 121-2018 is aimed at more active prevention practices and outlines four categories of equipment used to carry them out:

  • Anchor attachments
  • Tool attachments
  • Tool tethers
  • Containers

The scope of this standard includes tethering systems subsequently installed to the tools and anchors after original manufacture. The primary tools (hand tools, fasteners, power tools) and primary anchors (human body, lifts, structure) are considered native ends to the system and are specifically excluded from this standard.

This standard does not address passive preventative solutions such as netting, barricades and toe boards, nor does this standard address protective solutions for dropped objects that minimize damage from falling objects including head protection, foot protection and eye protection.

This standard also does not address hoisting or lifting requirements for material handling.

Effective Safety Practices

  • Have workers remove personal items and tools from pockets that are not sealed.
  • Unless it is necessary for the task in progress, move all material away from a leading edge.
  • Require workers in high-risk areas to wear hard hats.
  • Install toe boards where needed.
  • Use barricades and signage to prevent non-workers from entering a worksite where the possibility of dropped objects exist.
  • When working at height, have tools and other objects secured.

For More Information

[1] DROPS is a global initiative focused on preventing dropped objects. Learn more at:


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