Everything You Need to Know About Fall Rescue and Retrieval

Everything You Need to Know About Fall Rescue and Retrieval

22nd January 2020

Rescue and retrieval plan is one of the fall protection aspects that has been given the least attention. Probably because of the false sense of security of the fall arrest equipment. There are several factors that you need to consider when developing this plan. Here’s a summary of everything you need to know about the plan. Please read on. 

1.    A Rescue Plan is Never One Size Fits All
What works for fall rescue and retrieval in one instance may not necessarily be efficient in another. Your plan, therefore, needs to be different from one project to the next, and from one phase of a job to another. Also, your plan needs to be constantly reviewed to factor in the changes in the environment and technology. If you’re running a construction industry, you need a rescue and retrieval plan that’s specific to your site, location, task, and phase. You’ll also need to consider the surrounding work activities.  

2.    You Have Very Little Time
Coming up with a rescue plan is one thing. The rescue has to begin promptly after the fall to prevent the possibility of Suspension Trauma (ST), which can occur a few minutes into the suspension. It usually takes as little as 20 minutes or less. Prompt measures to rescue the victim need to be in place at any given time, not only after the fall. Every second is very essential.  

3.    There Are Equipment and Kits Made for This
There are different fall protection rescue equipment for particular circumstances. Coming up with a rescue plan will let you know the kind of equipment to go for. You’ll need to train your workforce on how to use the equipment efficiently. This training should always be provided by a qualified safety professional, and only trained personnel should be allowed to conduct the rescue process. If you don’t have trained personnel in your workforce, you may consider consulting your local fire department or any private entity capable of rescue at heights to be on-site during the work. It’s important to check the quality of the product before buying it. Look for CE marked fabrications where necessary - products bearing the CE mark to prove compliance to the EU health and safety directives.   

4.    The Victim May Not be Able to Help
As explained above, the victim needs to be rescued from suspension as soon as possible before ST sets in. Some rescue equipment is (manually or automatically) designed to help prolong the ST time. However, these products rely on the assumption that the victim is conscious after the fall and able to use the products. Unfortunately, not all victims could remain conscious soon after the fall and will need some help. To avoid such instances, your workers must never be allowed to work alone at heights. There must be someone to keep a constant watch whenever the workers are working at height. It’s also important to provide your workers with phones and radios for communication; but even then, the victim has to be conscious to use the items.   

5.    Was it Even Necessary?
A few months ago, we learnt about the hierarchy of controls. The primary step for any hazard is to try and eliminate it completely. For instance, you can implement travel restraint to prevent workers from reaching the edge. Remember, it’s better to prevent an individual from falling than to rescue them after a fall. Eliminating the hazards eliminates the need for rescue and the possibility of ST.