According to the Austrian Workers’ Compensation Board, falls are the second most common cause of accidents at work. In 2020, the AUVA (Austrian Workers’ Compensation Board) recorded 15,232 accidents in this area with 17 fatalities.
Of course, the goal must be to avoid these accidents through even better planning, equipment and training. If accidents do happen, rescue measures must be professionally prepared in order to keep the consequences as low as possible. One missing link to the rescue chain can lead to serious injuries and death.
In this article you will learn how rescue concepts are prepared in connection with facade work and how rescue measures are to be carried out in an emergency.
The 7 steps of a holistic rescue concept
Safety on facades relies on a professional risk assessment which is the result of a danger analysis, together with the development of a corresponding rescue concept. For this, all danger items are checked, and the rescue equipment is assembled, e.g. a suitable rescue lifting device is present.
Provision of the rescue gear:
Professional rescue gear includes a rescue lifting device or a pulley system. This gear must be available at every single work position and to each team deployed on the building site, as the teams usually work independent of each other.
Chronological rescue concept:
Every user must have understood the rescue concept and be able to apply it. A worker at height supervises (level 3) and examines the rescue gear and the hazards at regular intervals or after a change of activity. Furthermore, prior to each use and after a team change affecting at least one user, he/she will go through the rescue concept and the correct sequence with those present.
Review of rescue set:
It is essential that the storage of the rescue set is carefully considered and organised, e.g. by clear separation of regular equipment from rescue gear, e.g. by marking or placing in boxes clearly distinguished by colour. The person in charge must ensure that no items are removed from the rescue set, and that all materials are complete and in perfect condition.
Compliance with escape routes:
Whether the fallen person is to be rescued vertically (upward/downward), horizontally (to the right/left), or diagonally depends on the previously conducted risk assessment and the rescue concept based on this assessment. Depending on the façade type, it will be necessary to bring the victim to the emergency physician, e.g. to level 0, while complying with the situation-dependent escape routes.
The rescuer monitors the vital signs of the victim and - if the person has lost consciousness - administers the necessary first-aid measures until the arrival of the emergency medical services. The victim is handed over to the emergency medical services, with the information that the person has suffered suspension trauma.
Assessing the danger situation
The term rescue is used for living persons, while the term recovery is used for dead persons. A well conceived, holistic rescue concept also attaches prime importance to self-protection, i.e. the rescuer should not place himself in danger at any time. Some circumstances even allow for self-rescue, i.e. the victim can save themselves from danger following a fall from a height.
Rescue measures following a fall from a height
A holistic rescue concept ensures that after a fall all persons involved remain calm and composed enough to perform the necessary rescue measures:
- Recognise the situation and stop normal work.
So that the fallen person can be rescued as quickly as possible, it is necessary to assess the dangerous and general situation rapidly. Stop normal work immediately and concentrate on the fallen person.
- Ask the victim how they are and what happened.
It is important to gather a clear picture of the situation so that you can respond appropriately.
- Dial the emergency number.
In the event of an accident, you should immediately place an emergency call via your headset or mobile phone. IMPORTANT! Report that there is a potential suspension trauma.
- Initiate rescue measures at the same time.
Even a few minutes of suspension can have devastating consequences and quickly lead to suspension trauma, which is why time is of the essence. The victim must therefore by removed from the situation quickly, in order to prevent, for example, a suspension trauma.
- Bring the victim into a safe situation.
In order to provide assistance promptly, the emergency physician and medical team must reach the victim rapidly. For instance, in order to speed up the rescue after a fall from a wind turbine far away, you should share your location data with the emergency call centre and, if possible, meet the rescue team at the site entrance.
- Administer first-aid measures.
If the fall victim has suffered an injury, those present will have to administer first aid and, in severe cases, perform additional emergency measures, e.g. attach a sub-pelvic strap if the fall victim is likely to have sustained a pelvic fracture.
- Hand the victim over to the emergency medical services.
As soon as the emergency doctor and/or the rescue team have arrived on site, inform them about the fall’s exact course of events. The emergency medical services then instigate all further measures.
Repair & maintenance after a fall
If a fall from a height occurs and requires subsequent rescue measures, the entire equipment must be inspected and/or replaced. Repair and maintenance of a safety system involved in an incident comprises the following steps:
- A certified competent person inspects the entire fall protection system including rescue gear.
- The safety system is tested thoroughly, and parts subjected to stress that became deformed are replaced without exception. Sliders and anti-fall PPE (harnesses, ropes, etc.) must be replaced in their entirety.
- The manufacturer and/or experts trained for the purpose perform a professional inspection of the rescue devices.
We provide rescue training relating to rescue of persons in the event of a fall. After completing the training, you are able to help and stabilise people in an emergency. You will also learn everything relating to the subject of rescue concepts, chains of survival, selection of the correct anti-fall PPE, and much more.
Summary: Holistic rescue concepts require practice
If a hiker suffers a fall in the mountains, his companions may quickly become overwhelmed, and may start to panic themselves. This should not happen to trained industrial climbers, who are able to apply their theoretical knowledge practically calmly, quickly, and safely. This, however, takes much practice and a well conceived, holistic rescue concept based on a previous risk assessment. Rescue measures must follow a clear sequence; all participants are responsible for themselves and for others, and there must be regular inspection of all items of equipment. Only if all people involved are conscious of the danger situation and are able to perform safety and rescue measures competently can accidents be avoided and lives be saved when it comes to the worst.
Consult our free Checklist for other useful information about rope access technology used on facades and buildings.