Planning a Rescue
Once the planning is complete, it is advisable for the process to be documented and turn it into a written emergency rescue plan, which can be communicated to everyone who is involved within executed the plan from managers and health and safety professionals to contractors and site security teams.
A critical mistake we often witness is reliance on emergency services to carry out any rescue that might be required. Whilst there might be some circumstances where this might be appropriate the initial duty lies with those undertaking the work, you must have a plan for rescuing your team as the emergency services may not be able to attend or assist.
Here are some specific issues that you might need to consider when planning a rescue:
- The priority should always be made to minimise the fall, even during a rescue operation, don’t just rely on a direct rope based system as your first option if a safer option can be planned that reduces the risk of the rescuer falling
- Have you thought about how exactly a rescuer or rescue team will get safely to a person stuck working at height?
- If you are using vehicles such as cherry pickers for a rescue can they reach all of the areas where people are working? Is the ground actually able to support them? Can a MEWP lower all the way to the ground safely, to enable the rescue of an unconscious casualty? Are there any issues with passing traffic potentially causing an obstruction to a rescue or a collision with other vehicles?
- Considerations also need to be made to the safety of the rescuer, good rescue planning will ideally avoid putting anyone else at risk. It is usually preferable to lower or raise the casualty to safety remotely rather than relying on anyone else to do the rescue directly.
- If you’re going to rely on anchor points for rescue equipment you need to make sure they are fit for purpose and able to handle the additional load of a casualty and rescuer during rescue. Are these anchor points in the correct place for undertaking a rescue and positioned where any rescue system such as ropes can be safely used?
These key points need to be discussed and planned for in-advance, not during the intensity of a rescue.
Working at Height – Regular Maintenance
It is paramount that your equipment is kept in pristine condition with regular checks and maintenance. This would ensure your equipment can be deployed immediately during an emergency.
So, when considering work at height, make sure you have a suitable and sufficient emergency rescue plan in place that has been communicated to everyone before you let the work go ahead.