In the event that a fall from height occurs, a timely and well planned rescue is vital in ensuring the health and well being of the fallen person or persons.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 requires employers to make specific provisions for emergency planning. The need for a rapid and appropriate response following a fall from height should NOT be ignored. Suspension at height for any length of time, in an extreme scenario, can lead to death; therefore, it is vital that rescue planning is taken seriously.
It is crucial to establish whether you are planning for a “rescue” or an “evacuation” as this can affect the equipment or training requirements. A rescue is usually the recovery of a casualty by another person. An evacuation is typically the removal of a group of people to a safe location.
Adequate resources should be in place for the effective rescue and evacuation at your worksite. Resources should include rescue/evacuation equipment and personnel who have been trained to use the equipment. In addition to this, personnel should receive first aid training to enable them to manage a victim who is unconscious or in medical distress.
An emergency evacuation or rescue from heights can be achieved using an Automatic Descender. Once attached to the anchored descender, a person can be lowered to the ground safely. Automatic Descenders are extremely useful for untrained or inexperienced personnel as the knowledge required to operate the unit is minimal. Once the Automatic Descender is set up and attached to a certified anchor point, recovery or evacuation is as simple as connecting the hook to the personnel’s full-body harness. The Automatic Descender will automatically descend the person attached to the device at a set speed. (The actual rate is 0.8 metres per second, which is slower than jumping off a chair).
Due diligence and applying best practice is always the most efficient way to minimise and mitigate hazards when working at heights.