Let’s assume that your fall protection company just finished installing a new fall arrest system or inspecting and re-certifying an existing engineered system for another year. You’ve committed precious time and resources to ensuring a safe workplace, but despite all of these efforts, your company could be exposed to significant OSHA fines and the employees you consider family at risk.
If you are wondering why this may be so, the answer lies in OSHA 1956.502(d)(20). This important yet often overlooked fall protection regulation covers our duty to provide a means of rescue:
“The employer shall provide for prompt rescue of employees in the event of a fall or shall assure that employees are able to rescue themselves.”
Some folks tend to forget or ignore the fact that arresting a fall is only half the battle. An employee suspended in a body harness for even a short time can suffer from a potentially life-threatening condition orthostatic shock (also known as suspension trauma). After a fall, pooling blood in the lower extremities can cause a fall victim to experience fainting, nausea, breathlessness, dizziness, sweating, low heart rate, low blood pressure, loss of vision, and in severe cases, death. The threat posed by suspension trauma has prompted ANSI to define “prompt rescue” as a six-minute window.
So how do we provide for prompt self-rescue? To be sure, part of the answer is effective system design, but a new full-body harness developed by MSA-Latchways can play an important role too. The Personal Rescue Device by Latchways is an integrated harness system that features a small ‘backpack’ containing a 65-foot spool of Aramid rope and a braking mechanism. In the event of a fall, a worker can deploy the PRD by pulling a parachute style rip cord to execute a safe, controlled descent to ground level. In the event the fallen worker is incapacitated, a third party can activate the PRD’s secondary descent release mechanism with a telescoping rescue pole.
Because workers wear the PRD like a standard body harness, the intuitive system is always available, and unlike other rescue solutions, no special training is required. If you are struggling to devise a clear and easy-to-follow rescue plan to satisfy OSHA requirements, the PRD is an ideal solution. The Latchways PRD has undergone extensive testing, and both the harness and integral descender device conform to all required standards:
The harness conforms to:
- ANSI Z359.11:2014
- CSA Z259.10-12
The descender device conforms to:
- ANSI Z359.4:2013
- CSA Z259.2.3-12
The backpack and harness are:
- Waterproof and dustproof IP56 (Ingress Protection)
- -40° F to +140° F (-40° C to +60° C) Operating temperature
- Successfully assessed against ATEX category Ex II 2 G c IIC T3.
The Arc Flash model has been tested to ASTM F887-11.
Remember, the best-designed fall arrest system is of little value without a safe and quick means of rescue. For some applications, a traditional body harness is adequate, and self-rescue may be as simple as stepping back onto the elevated work area—it all boils down to how far you have fallen. In other instances like the example shown in the video above, controlled, self-descent with the PRD is your best option. To learn more about the PRD, request pricing, or place an order, contact the safety specialists at Diversified Fall Protection for further assistance.