Safety and OSHA News

Lighter side of safety: Do struck-by hazards exist in space?

If you have employees who work at heights, you’ve probably warned them to properly secure tools so no one below suffers a “struck-by” injury. Recently, an astronaut found out dropping tools in space produces a much different result.

The astronaut may never get her hands on those tools again.

Heidemarie Stefanshyn-Piper was working with fellow astronaut Stephen Bowen during a spacewalk outside the International Space Station.

They were attempting to clean and lubricate a stuck joint on a solar panel.

When a grease gun inside Stefanshyn-Piper’s tool bag exploded, she accidentally let go of it.

The bag and its contents floated off into space.

Earlier, the astronauts spotted a screw floating by, but were too far away to catch it. They don’t know where it came from, and Mission Control said it didn’t pose a serious hazard. (Apparently, having a screw loose is not uncommon at NASA.)

And just like earthbound employees who work at heights, the two astronauts were tied off. They had 85-foot tethers to keep them connected to the space shuttle Endeavor at all times.

You can watch raw video of the loss of the tool bag here. You can hear Stefanshyn-Piper say, “Oh great,” when the bag floats away.

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