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Construction Depot

Safety and health newsletter for the Oregon construction industry

March 13, 2015

Worker hanging strapped into a safety harness during a fall rescue drill

Personal fall arrest systems – responding to emergencies

You require your employees to wear personal fall-arrest gear when they are working on a roof. But, do you have a plan for rescuing them if they fall? When a worker falls and is suspended in a personal fall-arrest system, you must provide for a prompt rescue.

Tips for developing an emergency-response plan

Identify critical resources and rescue equipment.

Prompt rescue will not happen without trained responders, appropriate medical supplies, and the right equipment for the emergency.

Are first-aid supplies available? Every work site needs medical supplies for common injuries. Does your site have a first-aid kit for injuries that are likely to occur? Store the supplies in clearly marked, protective containers and make them available to all shifts.

Is appropriate rescue equipment available? Identify on-site equipment that responders can use to rescue a suspended worker. Extension ladders and mobile lifts are useful and available at most sites. Determine where and how each type of equipment would be most effective during a rescue. Make sure the equipment will permit rescuers to reach a fall victim, that it is available when rescuers need it, and that rescuers know how to use it.

Train on-site responders.

An effective emergency-response plan ensures that on-site responders know emergency procedures, how to use available rescue equipment, and – if necessary – how to contact off-site responders. Workers who use personal fall-arrest systems and who work alone must know how to rescue themselves. Those who work at a remote site may need a higher level of emergency training than those who work near a trauma center or a fire department, for example.

Establish a chain of command.

All workers must know their roles and responsibilities during an emergency. A chain of command links one person with overall responsibility for managing an emergency to those responsible for carrying out specific emergency-response tasks. Make sure that back-up personnel can take over when primary responders are not available.

Establish procedures for responding to emergencies.

Emergency procedures are important because they tell workers exactly what to do to ensure their safety during an emergency. At a minimum, your emergency-response plan should include the following procedures that describe what people must know and do to ensure that a fallen worker receives prompt attention:

After an emergency, review the procedures; determine if they should be changed to prevent similar events and revise them accordingly.

You can use 911 for ambulance service; however, most 911 responders are not trained to rescue a worker suspended in a personal fall-arrest system. Make sure only trained responders attempt a technical rescue.



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