Different Types Of Emergency Rescue When Working At Height

Emergency Rescue When Working at Height

Working at height can be incredibly dangerous, especially in emergency rescue operations. Whether you are operating high up on a construction site, in the middle of a disaster relief mission, or stuck inside an industrial storage facility – accidents and injuries happen – which is why it is so important for workers to be prepared for whatever dangers may arise. To help ensure that you stay safe should the worst occur, this blog post will guide you through different types of emergency rescues at height.

Rescuing an employee that has fallen must begin as quickly as possible to avoid suspension trauma. Alternately, the onset of suspension trauma can be slowed if the employee can stand in suspension relief straps or a loop on the end of a rope. 

If an employee falls and is suspended by their fall arrest harness, initiate the emergency rescue plan by following the steps listed below: 

  • The site supervisor or the employee in charge of the rescue team takes charge of the situation.
  • Determine the safest type of rescue given existing conditions so the rescue team can initiate a rescue as quickly as possible.
  • The employee in charge of the rescue alerts other employees that an emergency exists and that all work in the area should stop.
  • CALL SECURITY AT 9149 and call for additional help from employees trained in rescue procedures if required.
  • All employees in the vicinity of the incident must stop working immediately.
  • Attempt to communicate with the fallen employee to determine their condition and whether they can self-rescue or participate in an assisted rescue.
  • Ask all non-rescue-related people to leave the area.
  • Record the time (best estimate) when the employees fell and when they were rescued. The difference is the length of time the employee was suspended
  • Monitor the employee’s condition constantly. The signs and symptoms of orthostatic intolerance that can start to be seen in 2/3 minutes include:

a) Faintness 
b) Nausea
c) Breathlessness
d) Dizziness
e) Sweating
f) Paleness
g) Hot flushes
h) Skin tone may appear grey
i) Loss of vision 

  • The employee in charge of the rescue quickly evaluates the situation to identify any further hazards resulting from the accident.
  • Identify a safe landing area on a work platform, ground, or floor level.
  • Identify any hazards in or near the landing area that must be dealt with.
  • If additional safety procedures are required to deal with new hazards, list them below in the appropriate spot.
  • If necessary, ensure an employee from Security is designated to meet emergency response personnel (police, EHS, fire, etc.) and bring them quickly and safely to the work site.
  • Refer to the applicable type of rescue listed below and follow the procedures for implementing the rescue. 

Types Of Emergency Rescue When Working At Height

As with any industry, the types of emergency rescue work at height will depend on the specific job or project. Employers need to be aware of the different kinds of rescue operations that could be required in any given situation.

1. Self Rescue

If the employee has selected the proper fall arrest equipment, installed it correctly, is using it properly, and has not been injured, they should, in most cases, be able to self-rescue as follows: 

  • Make verbal contact with the fallen employee to help them stay calm, establish whether they are injured, and guide them during self-rescue.
  • Employee climbs back up to the work platform from which they fell. (This would typically involve a fall of 0.60 m. to 0.9 m. or 2 to 3 feet).
  • The rescue team assists the employee back onto the work platform.
  • Employee returns to ground or floor level. The rescue team stays with the employee in case they are unstable.
  • Have the employee checked by a qualified first aider and provide first aid if required.
  • Collect all of the fall arrest equipment used by the employee and tag the equipment as DO NOT USE. Document all of the items used, the employee’s name, the date and time of the fall, and the job performed when the fall occurred.
  • Give the fall arrest equipment and documentation to the employee’s supervisor or manager to have inspected for defects and damage.  
Different Types Of Emergency Rescue When Working At Height

2. Assisted Self Rescue 

If self-rescue is impossible, an assisted self-rescue will be performed using a mechanical assist winching system. The following procedures are to be used during this type of rescue: 

  • Make verbal contact with the employee to help them stay calm and determine whether they are injured.
  • Maintain verbal contact during the rescue.
  • While rescue preparations are being made, do the following:

a) If the employee’s harness has suspension relief straps and is okay, tell the employee to insert their feet in the straps to relieve the pressure exerted by the harness straps on their legs.
b) If the employee’s harness is not equipped with suspension relief straps, lower a rope with a loop at the end for the employee to use as a relief strap.
c) Encourage employees to keep moving their legs while their feet are in the suspension strap or rope loop. 

  • Attach the winching equipment to a securely installed, properly rated anchoring point.
  • Lower the winch line to the employee.
  • Have the employee grab the hook on the end of the line and securely attach it to the proper D-ring on their harness. (If necessary, provide verbal directions to assist the employee.)
  • A member of the rescue team must verify that there is a positive/secure connection between the hook and the D-ring.
  • The rescue team must raise or lower the fallen employee to the nearest safe work platform, floor, or ground level.
  • Have the employee checked by a qualified first aider and provide first aid if required.
  • Collect all of the employee’s fall arrest equipment and tag it as DO NOT USE. Document the items used, the employee’s name, the date and time of the fall, and the job performed when the fall occurred.
  • Give the fall arrest equipment and documentation to the employee’s supervisor or manager to have inspected for defects or damage. 

3. Fully Assisted Rescue

These procedures must be followed if the employee is injured and cannot attach themselves to the rescue system. 

  • Make verbal contact with the employee to help them stay calm and determine whether they are injured.
  • Maintain verbal contact during the rescue.
  • Attach the winching equipment to a securely installed and adequately rated anchoring point.
  • Rig separate lines for rescuers to use while carrying out the rescue.
  • If possible, use a rescue remote connection pole to attach the winching cable or rope to the employee’s harness D ring. 
  • If the remote connection pole cannot be used, lower a rescue team member to the suspended employee to attach the winch line to the D ring in the employee’s harness.
  • Raise or lower the employee to the nearest safe work platform or lower the employee to the ground or floor. (NOTE: Unless there is a hazard that prevents the rescue team from doing so, any employee that is injured or has been suspended in their harness for an unsafe period should be lowered to the floor or ground so that first aid and medical attention can be accessed as quickly as possible.)
  • Provide first aid and required medical attention. (Ensure that the possibility of suspension trauma is addressed.)
  • Collect all of the employee’s fall arrest equipment and tag it as DO NOT USE. Document the items used, the employee’s name, the date and time of the fall, and the job performed when the fall occurred.
  • Give the fall arrest equipment and documentation to the employee’s supervisor or manager to have inspected for defects or damage. 
Types Of Emergency Rescue When Working At Height

4. Ladder Rescue

If a ladder can be safely set up and the suspended person can be safely reached by a rescuer on the ladder, follow the procedures listed below:  

  • Set up the ladder so that a rescuer can reach the suspended employee on the ladder.
  • Rig separate lifelines for the rescuer on the ladder.
  • If the employee that has fallen is unconscious or, due to injuries, is unable to help during the rescue and a second rescuer is required, consideration should be given to using an alternative rescue procedure.
  • Securely attach a separate lowering/winch line to the employee.
  • Rescuers on the ground, or the closest safe surface, should raise the employee just enough to allow their lanyard to be disconnected and lower the employee to the ground or floor using the lowering line.
  • Once the fallen employee has been lowered to a safe surface, provide first aid and determine if medical attention is required to deal with possible suspension trauma. 

5. Aerial Lift Rescue

If an aerial lift is readily available and can safely reach the suspended employee, the following procedures must be followed. This rescue procedure can only be used if one of the rescuers is qualified to operate the aerial lift or a skilled operator can work with the rescuer.  

  • The aerial lift operator / qualified rescuer will ensure they are wearing proper fall protection equipment and that either an appropriate or self-retracting lanyard is available for the rescued employee.
  • Maneuver the aerial lift into position under, and within safe reach, of the employee to be rescued.
  • Once the employee being rescued is safely on the platform of the aerial lift, attach the available lanyard or self-retracting lanyard to the harness of the rescued employee.
  • Disconnect the lanyard or self-retracting lifeline the employee used when they fell.
  • Lower the lift to the ground, remove the rescued employee from the lift, and immediately provide the required medical attention.
  • When it is safe to do so, remove the fall protection equipment involved in the accident from service, bag it and attach a tag with the employee’s name, the date and time of the fall and what activities were at the time of the fall.
  • Turn the bagged equipment over to the employee’s supervisor. 

Conclusion

In a fall arrest situation, rescuers must be friendly and reassuring to the fallen employee. Follow the appropriate rescue procedures to safely and efficiently rescue the distressed employee. The proper use of fall protection equipment, following safety protocols, and using the right rescue procedure can ensure that all employees return home safely from the job site.

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