Suspension trauma: Every minute counts
a worker wearing fall protection falls and is left suspended in the air
too long, he or she may develop suspension trauma. OSHA defines
suspension trauma, also known as orthostatic intolerance, as "the
development of symptoms such as light-headedness, palpitations,
tremulousness, poor concentration ... and occasionally fainting” while
suspended in a sedentary position.
Suspension trauma can lead to death when gravity and lack of movement
cause blood to pool into the legs of a suspended worker. OSHA notes
that if a worker's legs are immobile due to vertical hanging, blood
will not effectively pump back to the heart. As blood accumulates in
the legs, veins can expand, reducing the amount of blood in
circulation. The body reacts by speeding up the heart rate in an
attempt to maintain blood flow to the brain.
If a worker is left suspended for too long, lack of blood flow to the
brain may cause fainting, organ and renal failure, and potentially
death. OSHA states that suspension in a fall-arrest device can result
in unconsciousness, followed by death, in less than 30 minutes.
To help prevent suspension trauma, OSHA recommends:
- Rescue suspended workers as soon as possible.
the signs and symptoms of orthostatic intolerance and that it is
life-threatening. Suspended workers with head injuries or who are
unconscious are particularly at risk.
Additionally, OSHA notes that rescue procedures should include the following contingency-based actions:
self-rescue is not possible, or if rescue cannot be performed right
away, the suspended worker should be trained to pump his or her legs
frequently to activate muscles to reduce the risk of venous blood
- The suspended worker should continuously be monitored for signs and symptoms of suspension trauma.
- Ensure the worker receives standard trauma resuscitation once rescued.
- If the rescued worker is unconscious, keep his or her air passages open and provide first aid.
- Monitor the worker and ensure he or she is evaluated by a health care professional.
Five common arc flash safety program mistakes
Safety and health professionals are intensely serious about protecting
workers from the hazards of electrical arc flash and complying with
industry safety standards. But it's easy to make mistakes that create
unnecessary costs (both time and money) or put workers at risk. As you
comply with NFPA 70E and OSHA safety standards, avoid these common missteps:
1. Starting in the middle
- Companies often start their Arc Flash Safety Programs by gathering
quotes from contractors that perform arc flash studies. A better place
to begin is becoming familiar with the issue yourself, even if you will
outsource the study. Training for management teams needing an overview of arc flash hazards and how to comply with regulations is available. Or obtain a copy of NFPA 70E and sign up for some basic arc flash training. You'll be an informed buyer who can make the most of the process for your company.
2. Failure to develop company electrical safety policies and procedures
- The assessment was done. The warning labels were installed. But too
many companies do not have written safety policies and procedures in
place to ensure all workers understand their roles and
responsibilities. It is best to incorporate these policies and
procedures into the arc flash training required for all employees.
3. Failure to plan for arc flash follow-up
- A quality arc flash study will include a detailed list of
recommendations to lower hazard levels and address any National
Electrical Code (NEC) violations. These recommendations may require
capital expenditures to make electrical system modifications.
4. Failure to update the arc flash hazard assessment
- Most electrical systems undergo modifications from time to time.
Equipment is removed, lines are added, and aging equipment is replaced.
These changes affect the arc flash hazard levels and require an update
to the arc flash hazard assessment, per NFPA 70E 130.3.
5. Failure to provide annual refresher training
- For most companies, arc flash safety standards require electrical
workers to significantly change their work practices. Annual refresher
training reminds workers of the standards and addresses questions and
confusion that may have developed. This clarity ensures workers do not
revert to old, less safe behaviors.
best results from your arc flash safety program, start with a
foundation of knowledge, develop plant-wide policies, follow up on
recommendations, and keep your hazard assessment and training program
up to date.
Source: Power Source LLC http://powersourceeng.com