Tool Tether Reminders

Tethering Tools Correctly Can Save Time, Money, and Lives

Incorrectly tethered tools can lead to tether failure, tools loss, damaged equipment or property, an injury, or even the death of someone below. Gary Anderson, for example, was killed in 2014 by a falling tape measure.

Making sure tools are tethered correctly with regard to the components and weights in use is vital to the prevention of dropped objects. The ANSI/ISEA 121-2018 is a voluntary consensus standard adopted by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) after the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) created it. The standard recognizes four active means of stopping dropped objects: anchor attachments, tool attachments, tool tethers, and containers.

The ISEA also has a page of resources titled The Gravity of Dropped Objects - Resources to Prevent Dropped Objects. Due partly to the number of standards available to employers, OSHA can issue citations under the General Duty Clause for dropped object risks even if no specific OSHA dropped object standard exists. Below is a list of reminders to think about when designing a tool tethering setup or program.

  • Tethers must be capable of supporting the weight of the attached tool, plus a reasonable safety margin—remember that a dropped tool will fall with increasingly more force than its mass at rest!
  • Using retractable tethers can help avoid tangled “octopus” situations when tethering multiple tools.
  • All parts of a tethering system must be compatible and have labels if produced with them.
  • All components must be in working order, without environmental or physical damage.
  • The length of the tether must not allow the tool to strike anything if dropped.
  • Webbing must not get caught on sharp edges or carabiner gate openings.
  • Always follow all manufacturer instructions.
  • Never modify tool tethers in the field.
  • Only attach one tool per tether.


This material is intended to be a broad overview of the subject matter and is provided for informational purposes only. Old Republic Contractors Insurance Group, Inc. does not endorse or recommend any products or services nor does it make any representation or warranty regarding the accuracy or completeness of the information. Old Republic Contractors Insurance Group, Inc. shall have no liability or responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss, action or inaction alleged to be caused directly or indirectly as a result of the information contained herein.

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