Working at height is inherently risky, no matter how good your safety record and it's important that you plan for complex rescues to avoid potential tragedy. If a worker falls unconscious whilst suspended in harness, timing is vital and your teams must act confidently to ensure they are rescued as quickly as possible.
A report from the Ministry of Labour reveals some shocking and worrying statistics in relation to falls from height. For example, of all fatal falls from height in the workplace, a cumulative count reveals that 14 workers died in their first month, 7 of those workers died in their first week and 3 of those workers died on their first day of work! This highlights the importance of early and effective working at height training. Read the full report:
It is a sad fact that poorly planned and executed rescues can potentially add to fatality statistics because the risk is not only in the fall itself, but also in the speed and efficiency of the rescue.
NOT JUST THE FALL....
Remember, it isn't just the fall itself which is dangerous! The harness designed to arrest our fall and save our life can become lethal due to the way an unconscious body behaves when it is left in suspension... Suspension Trauma, also known as Orthostatic Intolerance or Harness Hang Syndrome can kill someone - quickly!
If someone falls and is rendered unconscious, it is especially dangerous due to the risk of suspension intolerance. This is caused when venous pooling (blood gathering in the legs which are left dangling in the air) leads to a lack of blood passing through the heart. When there is a notable decrease in blood flow through the heart, critically low quantities of oxygenated blood circulate to the brain and other vital organs, causing catastrophic damage.
Therefore, when a person is unconscious, it is very important to keep the legs raised to prevent this from happening - a key point to remember why it is vital for rescuers to react quickly to move the injured person to a horizontal position.
PREPARING TOP SUCCEED IN HEIGHT RESCUES
This is why it is so important that employers provide those who are working at height with training to make them confident and efficient in helping themselves avoid danger but also to rescue others in peril.
One of the safest ways to create a realistic rescue training scenario, where teams can learn to manoeuvre an injured colleague to a safer position, is by making use of a training manikin or training dummy.
Using a manikin lets you experience the difficulties of moving an unresponsive casualty in the air, without risking a colleague!
In Canada, we are the Distributors for Ruth Lee Ltd rescue training manikins. They have designed a Working at Height manikin especially for this kind of rescue scenario. It has additional rigidity to reduce the amount of slumping when using a harness, has an anatomically correct weight distribution to accurately give the 'feel' of an unconscious casualty, plus it is available in a range of realistic sizes and weights to help demonstrate the difficulties of rescuing someone who is suspended in the air.
It's also worth remembering that using a manikin is the only way to replicate an unconscious casualty. This is because human instinct is to avoid pain and therefore a volunteer will subconsciously, though naturally, help the trainees to avoid knocks and bruises if they can prevent them! They might do this by shifting their weight when needed and this means your team won't experience the 'dead weight' of a true unconscious casualty.
The Ruth Lee Working At Height manikin has been widely used by members of the International Rope Access Trade Association (IRATA) and numerous safety training companies and organizations across Canada and the rest of the globe. The Utilities sector including Hydro companies have utilized this training tool to enhance their Working At Height training scenarios.
In this video, you can see our Working at Height manikin used in a rescue scenario in Chile...
If you would like to find out more about the Working at Height manikin, or any other in our range, please get in touch and we would be pleased to help you!