Rescue After a Fall

Even after realizing the need for training on fall protection and taking steps to prevent falls, accidents still happen.  Have you gone the extra step and identified how to rescue a worker in the event they fall on the protection system?

Having a rescue plan is just as important as having a fall protection plan,” “You really should not have one without the other. Just putting together a fall protection program without rescue is only doing half the job.”
~Bob Apel to EHS Today

What is required by OSHA and recommended by ANSI?

  • OSHA requires that “The employer shall provide for prompt rescue of an employee, or shall ensure they can rescue themselves.” (OSHA. 1926.502(d)(23)
  • ANSI Z359 takes things a step farther by recommending contact with the victim within 6 minutes by the rescuer.
  • Industry best practice requires employers to provide competent and efficient rescue within 15-20 minutes from the fall.
  • ANSI Z359.2 calls for written rescue procedures for all active fall protection systems, as well as detailed descriptions of the procedures for summoning rescue services.

Check out this article from Occupational Health & Safety titled “The Most Overlooked Aspects of Fall Protection” 

“If you’re not going to give your employees the skills to perform rescue then you might as well not even put them in the harness at all.”
~Paul A. Satti, technical director of the Construction Safety Council,
to EHS Today

Why should 911 not be your primary rescue plan?

Many companies believe that their local fire department or rescue agency can execute a rescue in accordance with OSHA, ANSI, and before suspension trauma sets in. In most situations, it is not realistic to think your local rescue agency can reach a fallen worker within 6 minutes of the fall, and have them rescued within 15-20 minutes.

If this is your rescue plan, have you practiced this with your local first responders? Do they notify you when they have known delays or are unavailable due to training or emergency calls?

Did you know that not all 911 rescuers are trained in the technical nature of a fall rescue?

Rescues of victims that are beyond the reach of a ground ladder (6 – 30 feet) or a ladder truck (60 – 90 feet), require additional training that is not provided to every firefighter or emergency responder. Since these rescuers are not something that occurs as often as a fire or medical emergencies, many 911 agencies rely on regional response teams, or inter-agency agreements for these types of emergencies.

This means rescue might not be as close to you as you may think.

How fast can properly trained 911 responders arrive on scene and rescue the victim?

The NFPA’s recommended response time for the first rescuer to arrive at the location of an emergency is 6 minutes 30 seconds. This is assuming that the first responders are coming from a 24/7/365 staffed agency that has the appropriate number of stations positioned adequately to allow for travel time to all areas they cover.

There are multiple factors that can delay a response time past the 6:30 benchmark, which may include:

  • Volunteer agencies that do not staff rescue equipment and stations
  • Closest rescuers dedicated to another emergency
  • Closest rescuers unavailable due to agency training schedule
  • Brownouts, blackouts, or closing of rescue stations due to staffing, budget, or political issues

How should you prepare for a rescue emergency?

Organizations that utilize fall protection should train their workers and internal emergency responders how to perform basic rescues from the fall protection system in use. This expedites getting the victim out of a hanging/vertical position, decreases the potential for suspension trauma, and allows emergency medical personnel to more quickly reach and treat the victim.

Elevated Safety’s Rescue After The Fall training courses cover a full range of rescue options for your facility. In addition to self-rescue, buddy rescue, and team-based rescue techniques,  we will cover basic first aid and techniques for caring for the injured worker.  Our rescue instructors use methods and your equipment, as well as demonstrating the newest equipment and techniques available.

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!

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