man on ladders

Falling objects remain an underestimated risk of Working At Height

Posted on 30th Apr, 2021 | By Lorretta Tatham

Risk management is essential with Work at Height, for both the worker and the general public. It is necessary to ensure that all safety precautions are taken before, during and after working at height, especially with falling objects. These in particular remain an especially underestimated risk of working at height. This post offers information about the risks of falling objects, and how you can alleviate them. If you are in a field that requires working at height, or you have employees that do so, we recommend taking our Working at Height Training Course.

What are the risks?

When working at height, be it on a scaffold, a cherry picker or a scissor lift, even relatively light falling objects can pose a serious threat to anyone at ground level, whether they’re colleagues. Even lighter, smaller materials such as nails, a tape measure, or loose rubble have the potential to harm if falling from a height. And when it comes to heavy equipment such as drills, saws and hammers, these have the potential to cause serious or even fatal injuries. No matter what you’re working with, it’s vital to have all the appropriate safety measures in place.

Why do they remain underestimated?

Despite the clear risks that come with falling objects, the number of accidents reported that stem from falling objects remains high, indicating instances of insufficient training, or that the safety measures have not suitably been put in place. The majority of people will understand that heavier equipment can be dangerous if dropped, even from a small height this is the case. However, when working at height, the dangers of smaller equipment can often be underestimated in terms of the harm that it can pose to people on the ground, which can lead to instances of occasional carelessness. It doesn’t help that the size and weight of such equipment means that it’s easier to knock accidentally if it’s left near a ledge, potentially leading to a disaster on the ground.

man fallen from stepladder
How to reduce the risks

There are several ways to reduce the risk of falling objects, many of which are covered in more detail in our Work at Height training course. However, here are a few to keep in mind for the time being.

Toe Boards

This is a simple but effective addition to consider when working at height. Installing toe boards prevents objects from falling off the edge of platforms, making the deck a safer place to hold equipment.

Rubble Chutes

These are the optimum way to remove debris from your deck safely. Use the chutes to discard anything that’s not needed instead of simply throwing them over into a skip.

Safety Lines

Keeping tools that you’re not currently using attached to a safety line means that if they’re accidentally dropped over the edge, they can only fall as far as the line goes.

Brick guards or Netting

Installing a net or guard onto the side of your scaffold can be incredibly effective in reducing the likelihood of falling objects by creating a physical barrier next to the edge.

Work at Height comes with several risks, with falling objects being one of the most common. Fortunately, with the correct mitigation in place, as well as sufficient knowledge of the risks, they can be easily avoided.

And if you decide that you or any of your employees could benefit from any additional training or guidance, that’s exactly what we provide here at Browns Safety. We provide a wide range of accredited safety courses on a range of topics, including basic Working at Height training, and access equipment courses.

Since the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic, we also now offer a comprehensive range of online safety courses. We are currently taking bookings for these courses, so if you’d like to reserve your places, don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can click through to the main course pages listed above, or alternatively contact us directly by calling us on 01282 615517, or emailing us on

    Contact us today

    We're here to help






    Book an inspection today!

    Give us a call today and a member of our helpful team of advisors will be able to get your ladder inspections booked in for you. Call us on 01282 615517 now

    Join our mailing list...