If you are a member of a construction crew in Santa Fe Springs or elsewhere in California, you will undoubtedly be aware of the risks of working at heights. Although your employer must provide personal protective equipment, that is not where the safety precautions end. Safety training must include a suspension trauma rescue plan because it could be the difference between life and death.
A fall harness will arrest your fall, but the most significant danger is suspension trauma that could be fatal if your rescue takes longer than 10 to 15 minutes. The following are the symptoms of suspension trauma, which could set in within minutes:
- You could experience narrowing of vision.
- Nausea, dizziness and paleness can occur.
- You could lose consciousness after suspending for only three to five minutes.
Your co-workers must set the rescue plan in motion while awaiting first responders. If you did not lose consciousness during the fall, it is crucial to move your legs as much as possible. If your fall arrest system has foot straps, use them to pump your leg muscles to keep blood circulating.
Otherwise, if you are close enough to a building, use your legs to push yourself away from the wall, repeating this every time you swing back toward the wall. It will help blood circulation and prevent blood from collecting in your feet. Depending on the height to reach you, a ladder or an aerial lift can get you out of the suspended position. If you are conscious, you could climb down a ladder or onto an aerial lift.
Even after your removal from the fall harness, your life will remain at risk. The following precautions are crucial while waiting for the rescue team:
- Call 911 immediately and follow the instructions strictly.
- It is essential not to lie down horizontally.
- A horizontal position could cause your blood to rush to your brain, which is life-threatening.
- They must put you in a seated position.
- Your position must allow you to stretch your legs out in front of you.
- If you are unconscious, they must make sure there is nothing blocking your airways.
Once you are safe, it is essential to report the injury to your employer as soon as possible. This is because there is a time limit for filing workers’ compensation claims in California. The benefits will cover your medical expenses and a percentage of lost wages for the treatment and recovery period. If your fall caused a permanent disability, you would likely receive additional benefits.