Many Pennsylvania employees who work at great heights use a fall arrest safety system to keep them safe should they fall. These systems usually comprise full-body harnesses and anchor points to protect workers from hitting the ground. While they absolutely save lives, there are a few risks both employers and employees should be aware of.
When workers fall and becomes suspended in the harness, they could suffer what is known as suspension trauma or orthostatic intolerance. This is a condition that occurs when blood pools in the veins due to being suspended for a period of time. Symptoms can potentially include dizziness, weakness and fainting. In some cases, suspension trauma can set in within just a few minutes, so it is imperative that the employer has a rescue plan to retrieve the suspended employee as soon as possible.
To prevent or delay suspension trauma, employers can provide certain accessories that employees who are at risk for a fall can use. For example, relief steps allow employees to stand up in the harness and flex their leg muscles, preventing the blood from pooling. An integrated self-rescue harness system also allows employees to lower themselves to the ground if they become suspended, allowing them to essentially rescue themselves.
Workplace injuries can be devastating to both the injured parties as well as to their families who rely on them to contribute to household expenses. Most employers are required to have workers’ compensation insurance coverage, and benefits available thereunder can help to ease some of the resulting financial burden. An attorney can often assist in the preparation and filing of the required claim.