Height rescue: what do you need to know?
When working on scaffolding, safety is of top priority. Collective and individual safety devices ensure that your work at height is as safe as possible. Despite all safety precautions, you should always keep in mind the danger of a possible fall from the scaffold. Even if a fall is arrested by PPE, the accident victim must first be rescued from it before the danger is completely averted. That's why it's important that you and your team are prepared for an emergency. Read here what you need to know about fast and safe height rescue.
Your colleague has fallen, what now?
Once a fall from the scaffold has happened and your colleague is hanging in the PPE, the first thing to do is to stay calm and get help if necessary! Under no circumstances should you put yourself in danger and risk falling. You should only rescue your colleague out of the PPE yourself if you have received the appropriate training and are in possession of certified height rescue equipment. How to proceed in case of an accident or fall from the scaffold can be found in the rescue plan. All employees should know the contents of the rescue plan, as it specifies the rescue measures to be carried out in an emergency. These should also be trained regularly so that the rescue can be carried out as safely as possible and everyone knows exactly what to do.
Height rescue should only be carried out by trained persons, especially if the accident victim has been hanging in the personal protective equipment for more than 20 minutes. Even if your colleague has been caught by the PPE, there is a risk of life-threatening suspension trauma after only a short time. This can occur when the leg arteries are cut off by the ropes of the PPE. Putting the colleague in an otherwise usual shock position during the rescue would therefore be fatal, because the upper body must instead be positioned in an elevated position. Otherwise, the accumulated blood from the legs could rush back to the heart too quickly and overload it. To prevent such mistakes, you should not carry out these rescue measures yourself without appropriate first-aider training, but call for help. Read here how you can be trained as a first aider.
How can you help your colleague directly after a fall?
Even if you are not able to perform a rescue at height yourself, you can take your own measures until the trained rescuers arrive. Make contact with the colleague who has fallen. If they are conscious, you should ask them to move their legs or push against resistance to prevent suspension trauma. To make this easier in the event of an accident, aids can be carried directly on the PPE as a preventive measure. This can be, for example, a holding rope with a length adjustment device, in whose rope loops the fallen person can put their feet. The use of such an aid should already be considered when setting up the rescue plan.
The actual height rescue is carried out, if possible, at best by abseiling the accident victim. This is physically easier for the rescuers than pulling them up and can therefore be carried out in as controlled a manner as possible. Here it also becomes clear why you absolutely need appropriate height rescue training for this. Not only should you be trained in using the height rescue equipment, but also in handling the accident victim after lowering them to the safe ground.