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Why is it Necessary to Write a Fall Protection Rescue Plan?

Last updated: 12th February 2024

There is always a risk of falling when working at height, and so it is important to account for this risk and compose a Fall Protection Rescue Plan. A Fall Protection Rescue Plan details the procedures that must be followed for workers both before and when a fall occurs. This blog will contain practical tips and guidelines to create an effective and useful Fall Protection Rescue Plan.


Fall Protection Plan or Fall Protection Rescue Plan


A Fall Protection Plan covers guidelines for Work at Height safety, with the main objective setting out the necessary steps to prevent falls from height happening.  A Fall Protection Rescue Plan is a guideline for the events after a fall accident occurs and their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has stopped their fall being fatal. The plan describes what the victim and surrounding operatives must do in such a situation, and the procedures to follow to rescue a worker who has suffered a fall from height.


How Will Having a Fall Protection Rescue Plan Help?


There may be instant relief in the first moments after a fall as the victim’s colleagues realise, they haven’t suffered the fatal consequences a fall from height can have, had they not been wearing the correct Fall Arrest System. However, the victim will still be extremely uncomfortable as they will be suspended in their full-body harness. It is important to begin bringing the fallen worker to safety as efficiently as possible, whether that be up or down.

Some may panic in the immediate aftermath of witnessing a colleague falling from height, but a clear set of guidelines in the form of a Fall Protection Rescue Plan will effectively help the team navigate through the steps of executing the rescue operation.


Reasons Why a Rescue Plan is Needed


  1. Self-rescue is often impossible.

It is often hard/ near impossible for the fallen worker to rescue themselves; they will probably be unable to climb to a safe area. The worker may also be unwell – this could be the reason they fell in the first instance, or it could be because of the fall itself. Either way, if the victim is incapacitated or even unconscious, they will not be able to assist during a rescue attempt.


  1. Preparation is Key.

Training workers for such an event will make the rescue process a swifter and much less frantic and panicked process. There will be less mistakes, and the rescue process will be quick and most importantly safe for all involved. Being fully prepared and ensuring all operatives have the correct training and equipment will ensure workers are fully prepared for any emergency and can respond appropriately.


  1. Emergency Services Can Take Too Long to Arrive.

Some worksites are located remotely, and it will take emergency services too long to arrive or are inaccessible to standard emergency response vehicles. Additional injuries or trauma can be sustained if a victim is suspended in a harness for a prolonged period if they have not been rescued quick enough, and there are also situations where a rescue attempt cannot be undertaken by emergency services as they are not equipped for such situations.


  1. Harness Suspension Trauma Can Occur.

Otherwise known as Orthostatic Intolerance, Harness Suspension Trauma can occur when the human body is held in an upright position for an extended period without sufficient movement. It is imperative that the rescue response be quick as the leg straps in the harness can disrupt blood flow and circulation around the body, which can then lead to the restriction of blood reaching extremities, the brain, and other vital organs, which can have fatal consequences.


Having pre-established, organised guidelines in the form of a Fall Protection Rescue Plan can ensure that every precious second is utilised properly and that no valuable time is wasted.

Before completing a rescue plan, a risk assessment must be undertaken and completed on the hazards posed at the worksite. There will need to be research into who will be performing a rescue attempt, where rescues may occur and be necessary, what equipment will be required and how a rescue attempt would be performed. All workers must be within continued rescue access, BS 8437 requires rescue out of suspension within 10 minutes.

This blog forms part of a series ‘From Zero to Safety’, Heightsafe have teamed up with one of our partners XS Platforms and will continue to provide valuable content to ensure companies are providing the safest environment for their workers.

Do You Require a Fall Protection Solution?

Contact one of Heightsafe’s specialists today for a free consultation and quote either online or by phone on 020 3819 7199.

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