Many employers have a fall protection plan in place to prevent worker injuries due to falls from elevated heights, but they also may want to ensure they establish and follow emergency procedures in case accidents do happen. Employers may consider adding a rescue plan and workplace safety resources associated with emergency response to quickly provide workers with help, according to Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) magazine.
The U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) requires employers to provide workers with proper fall protection equipment and systems depending on the hazards of the job. In addition to these protective measures, it also is important for companies to prepare for fall-related emergencies by having a written plan to rescue employees from heights.
A rescue operation may be necessary to provide workers with necessary medical attention under certain situations involving a fall, according to OHS magazine. These include when workers suffer from heat exhaustion, diabetes-related problems and electrical shock. Workers may remain suspended after a fall as well, which could also endanger their safety.
Standards related to rescue operations after a fall
In addressing risks that are posed to worker safety after a fall, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) introduced new standards for fall protection. ANSI/ASSE Z359.2 details minimum requirements for management of fall protection programs, and ANSI/ASSE Z359.4 states the safety requirements for assisted rescue and self-rescue systems, subsystems and components.
Standard ANSI/ASSE Z359.4 applies to the rescue and retrieval of one or two workers at a time after they have experienced a fall.
The ANSI/ASSE Z359.2-2007 standard states that employers must have a plan that establishes the requirements and training for rescuers, as well as the procedure for companies to contact professional rescue services. The employer and the professional rescue service should have a written agreement before workers are assigned to perform duties at elevated heights.
Employers that are contemplating implementing their own rescue operations from heights may have to follow the ANSI/ASSE Z359.2 standard, which provides guidance and requirements for training. It may be beneficial for employee training programs to ensure rescuers understand rescue systems and procedures. Similar to how employers would test fall protection equipment, they also may want to make sure rescue equipment – from ropes to harnesses – is on par with set standards and the ANSI/ASSE Z359.4 certification is marked on these products.