Falling continues to be the leading cause of death among construction professionals, and OSHA’s most frequently cited violation in all industries is fall safety. Fall prevention measures and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) have had a substantial effect on the number and severity of injuries and fatalities caused by falling workers, but there is still more work to be done.

Fall safety devices are designed to stop an uncontrolled fall and spread the impact evenly around the body of a falling worker. However, when the worker is suspended in a fall safety harness waiting for rescue, his or her breathing is limited, which may result in suspension trauma, a potentially fatal condition.

Your rescue attempts would be complicated by the presence of confined spaces. When a worker falls while operating in a confined space, such as a drain, well, tank, or underground pipe or tunnel, rescuers have fewer options for reaching and retrieving the worker. It helps to be prepared for a confined space rescue when rescuers are on a tight schedule and every second counts.

  • Developing a Rescue Plan

Employers must have provisions for a rapid rescue in their fall safety plans, according to OSHA. Before an emergency occurs, having a written rescue plan in place eliminates the uncertainty and disorganization that can add seconds and minutes to your response time. A rescue plan equips personnel with the skills and procedures they need to avoid injuries or death in the case of an emergency.

In the event of a fall, a rescue plan contains a simple sheet with emergency contacts and a comprehensive action checklist for your team to use. Fall rescue awareness tools for your team, as well as guidelines for reporting fall accidents to OSHA, should be included in a complete rescue plan document.

  • Use rescue equipment made for confined spaces.

Tripods have a compact overhead tie-off atop confined-space entry points like manholes, wells, and tanks. In small spaces, tripods can be used with optional winches to provide secure access and emergency rescue. A number of fall arrest systems and winches can be placed on tripods.

Personnel riding, material handling, rescue, and evacuation are all possible with a regular material/manhandling winch. You may also use a specialized three-way rescue winch with bi-directional winching to safely lift or lower a worker in a confined space with the aid of an attendant.

Personal fall arrest devices, regardless of type, should be used in combination with these winches and set up to restrict the possible free fall to six feet. Complete body harnesses, lanyards, and self-retracting lifelines (SRLs) should always be worn and securely tied off to an overhead anchor point such as a tripod.

  • Ensure that you have a trained rescuer around

Having a competent rescuer on hand to assist when needed is arguably the most crucial aspect of any rescue. Have a colleague nearby if someone is employed in a cramped space who can come to the worker’s assistance immediately in the case of an emergency.

Needing your staff to confined space safety training?

Platinum Safety can offer you the option to either come and train at our safety training centre located at 2/6 Weld Street Prestons NSW 2170 or we can travel out to your location and conduct the training onsite at your workplace.

We specialize in confined space education and ensure you are safe and compliant before, during, and after employees work and enter confined spaces. Click here to learn more about our numerous training courses for confined space!

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