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Near-miss: Dropped object: 6kg sledge hammer head

A member has reported an incident in which a 6kg hammer head fell 5m (metre) to an unmanned deck. Whilst using the sledge hammer to dislodge a 600Te shackle connecting a 340Te wire, the hammer head came free of the wooden shaft when it was struck against the shackle pin, and it fell 5m to the unmanned area below which had no barriers in place. There were no injuries.

On closer inspection, it was noted that there were a number of small indentations around the head and along the shaft, two hairline cracks at the head end of the hammer and a large open split at the user end of the handle. It was also noted that the lanyard used to secure the handle was an inadequate solution for the retention of tools used at height.

Closer inspection of handle and hammer head
Closer inspection of handle and hammer head

Following investigation, it was identified that there had been numerous other occasions where hammer heads had either been found loose or had come off during use. In addition, several cases reported damaged shafts.

The following lessons were learnt:

  • The inspection for damage of all hand tools should always be carried out prior to use and before returning to storage location;
  • Hammer heads should be checked for security prior to use, ensuring heads are securely fixed to handle;
  • Defective tooling should be removed from service and quarantined;
  • Appropriate tool retention methods should be used when working at height with tools; different methods may be appropriate for tools of different weight;
  • The tool lanyard connection point should either be supplied with the hammer, recommended by the tool manufacturer or be a recommended and approved lanyard manufacturer’s modification.
Some suggested tool lanyard arrangements
Some suggested tool lanyard arrangements

Safety Event

Published: 1 November 2011
Download: IMCA SF 12/11

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