Personal Fall Arrest Systems (PFASs) have become almost universal in construction and are very common in general industry environments. When installed and used properly, PFASs are effective at keeping employees who fall from contacting structures or surfaces below them. Unfortunately, falls still occur, since PFASs do not actually protect the employee from the fall hazard.

Employees who hang in harnesses are prone to orthostatic intolerance, widely known as suspension trauma. While hanging vertically in the harness, the leg straps reduce the person’s circulation, causing blood to pool in the legs, which becomes deoxygenated and causes metabolic waste to accumulate. Since blood is pooling in the legs, blood flow back to the chest and head is reduced, causing confusion, disorientation, and sometimes death.

It is critical an employee hanging in a harness is rescued as soon as possible. The majority of fall protection setups, however, do not address or account for a rescue plan. Rescue plans fall into three categories:

  • Self-Rescue – By accessing a ladder, landing, or some other surface, the fallen employee negotiates their way back to a solid surface. Alternatively, the employee activates a controlled descent device attached to their harness and is slowly lowered to the ground.
  • Assisted Rescue – The fallen employee’s coworkers assist in getting the employee to a surface by pulling them, providing a ladder, or delivering some other tool or device to aid in access.
  • High-Angle Rescue – A trained rescue team uses high-angle rescue techniques and equipment to remove the fallen employee from suspension and deliver him/her to a surface.

The worst time to figure out how to rescue a fallen employee is after the employee falls. A fall rescue plan is a required component to a complete PFAS setup. Employees should always receive training on self-rescue devices before attempting to use one.

RETTEW offers fall protection and fall rescue classes at our training center or at your facility, customized to match your fall protection plan and equipment. Contact Kelly Kramer at 717.377.2374 to set up a consultation.

Additional Offerings

Safety training and consulting are only some of RETTEW’s close to 600 services. Our safety team works hand in hand with engineers, scientists, project managers, and other technical experts at sites such as manufacturing facilities, drill pads, and commercial construction. We are well respected in many industries and known for ensuring workers and equipment remain safe, which keeps your projects on track and your bottom line thriving.