Rescue plans don’t have to be complex. 
Employers should implement a rescue plan that includes procedures for:

  • Preventing prolonged suspension
  • Performing rescue and treatment as quickly as possible
  • Identifying orthostatic intolerance signs and symptoms

Management’s responsibility for safety needs to give careful consideration to the methodology of rescuing a fallen operative. Such considerations might include:

Dialing 999 – Often we think of the word “rescue” as calling 999, but calling the local fire and rescue services does not constitute an effective rescue plan. Response times, access and egress can be too slow if not planned: with emergency services aiming for 8 minutes, and 30% of vehicles failing to meet this target, they should not be relied upon.

Please Note that Not all fire and rescue services have the technical capability to rescue from height.

Crane Man Basket – This option has severe limitations, the main one being time. Ideally the target time from “Man Down” to being recovered should to be no more than five minutes. Other restrictions and shortcomings that make this a less than ideal solution are:

  • the crane is out of action for some reason, e.g. it may be “winded-off”;
  • the driver may be away from the crane;
  • rescue by crane is limited to building facades and often is not able to provide access and rescue internal to the structure;
  • the crane man basket may be in the wrong location.

MEWP’s This option for rescue can have its limitations such as available access and height restriction as the casualty may be at a height greater than the reach of the MEWP.

Rope Access Rescue – Rope rescue requires a technically competent team with a high level of training and re-training to acquire and retain this skill set. Trained rope rescue personnel would need to be on stand-by and/or within close proximity to any incident. Perhaps the greatest restriction is that it is a skill to which only a few on site work force would, or could, be trained.

Third Party Rescue Systems – There are a number of considerations to take into account when considering third part rescue systems. In every consideration TIME is the critical factor. The speed with which the system can be deployed and the rescue carried out is vitally important, as is the SIMPLICITY and EASE of use so that a typical operative can deploy and carry out a rescue after being trained.
Remember: whichever methodology you choose, the target time should be to rescue the casualty in under ten minutes.

Planning for Fall Protection must include Rescue 
Having a rescue plan is just as important as having a fall protection plan. No site should have one without the other. Just putting together a fall protection program without rescue is only doing half the job.
The onus is on the employer to ensure that the suspended operative is rescued quickly. That means ensuring that for anyone who works at height, there’s a rescue plan. Fall protection must include an emergency rescue plan.

How will you rescue an operative who has fallen and is suspended in a fall-arrest system? Answering some basic questions can help in developing a rescue plan.