Falls from heights are a common cause of injury on worksites in general and particularly on construction sites however despite its prevalence, employers seldom address the topic of post-fall actions such as rescue and retrieval. That is why a fall rescue plan should be developed by employers, even if it is never needed, it is best to be prepared than to be caught off guard.
Occasionally despite the best safety plan, falls can still occur and in this case employees need to know how to react. For example if a worker is operating from a height using a harness and lanyards and trips and falls from the structure, we need to know what to do because at this stage it is vital to act quickly, we don’t have the luxury or formulating a plan at this stage.
The writer of the Simplified Safety blog (http://simplifiedsafety.com/blog/) recently explained five things you need to consider when developing the rescue and retrieval plan for falls. The following is an excerpt from the post:
1. You Don’t Have A Lot Of Time
Whatever plan you come up with needs to happen fast. Orthostatic Intolerance – also known as Suspension Trauma – can occur in as little as 20-30 minutes and sometimes less, depending on a person’s health and/or the nature of any injuries sustained in the fall. Rescue needs to begin immediately. But what is your plan? Are you positioning a lift beneath him to which he can be lowered? How long will it take to get the lift there? Is the ground below safe for a lift? Questions like these need to be answered ahead of time because if you’re doing it after a fall, you’re wasting precious time.
On the post the writer goes on to provide some of the symptoms of Suspension Trauma. Some of these include faintness, breathlessness, sweating, paleness, hot flashes, increased heart rate etc. and there are certain factors such as shock and respiratory disease can affect the severity of suspension trauma.
Suspension trauma (which is something that occurs when the blood pools in the legs) has some symptoms which workers need to be educated about. They must also be trained on how to prevent this from happening and what to do once the worker is lowered back down to the ground so that the suspension trauma is not exacerbated.
The writer also stresses the importance of a tailored rescue plan, not just a generic plan which would apply to any and all situations. A safety plan needs to be adapted to the site, its risks etc. This is particularly important given the dynamic and ever changing nature of construction sites. The fall rescue plan should be regularly reviewed.
The post goes on to provide some valuable insight and information for developing a fall rescue plan. Read the entire post on http://simplifiedsafety.com/blog/