Published on: September 22, 2013
Employers that require employees to work in situations in which falls could occur can help reduce the risk of these falls by providing employees with fall protection equipment, but it is still possible for an accident to happen. Preventative maintenance including a fall protection system inspection is the best way to keep workers from being hurt on the job. However, employers must have a post-fall rescue plan in place just in case there is an unexpected accident.
Forming a Plan of Action
It is important for employers to sit down with employees to form a post-fall rescue plan that is understood by all workers. Supervisors or other workers who will not be exposed to the risk of falling must still understand how to provide assistance to workers who are at risk.
Creating a post-fall rescue plan is also a good opportunity to talk to employees about the fall protection equipment that is provided to them. Employers can evaluate whether their workers have been trained on fall protection in order to stay in compliance with OSHA.
Emergency phone numbers should be posted throughout the workplace to ensure that workers can find this information quickly in an emergency situation. Rescue equipment should be kept in a location that is accessible from all points at the job site, and employees should be aware that the rescue equipment is available for their use.
When Safety Equipment Works Correctly
Employers and workers do not only have to worry about situations in which fall prevention equipment fails to work as designed. Workers who fall on the job may still need medical treatment if their safety equipment works properly but they are suspended in the air for a prolonged period of time. OSHA studies indicate that workers who are subjected to being suspended for any period of time are likely to experience numbness and nausea. These adverse health effects make it important for employers and workers to be properly trained on staying calm and contacting emergency medical responders as quickly as possible in order to lessen the amount of time that a worker is left suspended following a fall.
Equipment and Training For Post-Fall Rescue
Harnesses, ladders and other fall protection and rescue equipment must be a priority for any company that requires employees to work in an area that exposes them to a high fall risk. However, this equipment is essentially useless if workers are not properly trained. Training workers to use fall protection equipment and post-fall rescue tools helps lessen the risk that a fall will occur in the first place and allows the company to comply with OSHA regulations.
Medical Treatment After a Fall
Anyone who has fallen from a height to the ground below should not be moved by workers who are not trained to provide emergency medical care. Emergency medical personnel should be contacted immediately, and workers who are attending to the person who has fallen can administer CPR or other care if they are knowledgeable.
It can be difficult for workers to understand how to provide medical treatment to someone who is suspended in the air following a fall. This situation requires the person to be lowered slowly and carefully until they are approximately three feet off of the ground. Emergency responders will be able to provide treatment after the individual has been lowered to this height.
Fall protection equipment is essential for the safety of workers who are at risk of falling while on the job site. However, the fact that falls can occur despite the safety efforts of employers makes it important for a post-fall rescue plan to be in place. Training workers on safety equipment and including them in the creation of a plan helps keep injuries to a minimum in case of an accident.