emergency fall procedure

Emergency Procedures For Falls In The Workplace

Whenever working at height is necessary, it’s important to maintain appropriate safety measures and ensure that emergency procedures are in place should an incident unfortunately occur. The most common injuries caused by falls from height are head injuries, impalement, obstructed airways and fractures. It’s important that there are plans in place to treat these injuries in an emergency situation, and that appropriate first aid training has been given to staff on site.

WorkSafe regulations have specific guidelines for safety requirements when working at height and guidelines for appropriate emergency procedures should an incident occur. All safety measures and equipment must be regularly tested to ensure there are no faults. Risk minimisation audits should be undertaken regularly to make sure that the highest level of site safety is maintained and all workers have received appropriate emergency training.

Emergency Procedures

When developing emergency plans and procedures, it’s necessary to consider different scenarios that are likely to occur in order to provide adequate planning. Using information that has been gathered during site safety audits will help ensure that the procedures are adequate.

It’s important to ensure that every worker on site has access to first aid equipment and that all emergency equipment stored on the worksite is clearly signed and easily locatable.

It’s also important to ensure that workers have all the appropriate first aid training and can confidently use the provided equipment, should the need to arise.

Workplace regulations stipulate that all emergency procedures, including those for falls need to be clearly detailed in the overall safety plans for every worksite. The process of establishing these plans and procedures would take into account the following:

Location of the work being undertaken:

  • Is the worksite located in a remote area?
  • Is access to the workplace appropriate for emergency vehicles and personnel?
  • If the person working at height were to fall, would they be able to be rescued easily?


  • What communications systems are being provided to those working at height?
  • Are they able to be operated without causing additional risk?

Rescue Equipment:

  • What rescue and emergency equipment can be provided for use in the event of an accident to assist those working at height? For eg, this may include ropes and rapid response kits.
  • All rescue equipment should be kept close to the worksite and clearly marked, with trained operators always present. This will ensure that emergency rescue can commence immediately without having to wait for emergency services to arrive.

Capabilities of Rescuers:

  • Are there staff trained on site who are appropriately trained to operate all rescue and emergency equipment? Have all workers undertaken appropriate first aid and emergency response training?
  • Have emergency procedures been tested to demonstrate that they are effective?

First Aid:

  • Are appropriate first aid response tools available for injuries related to falls?
  • Are staff trained in how to use these tools and apparatus?

Local emergency services— if they are to be relied on for rescue:

  • Is an appropriate plan of action in place to notify emergency services of accidents in the event of an incident?
  • What is the likely response time?

Suspension Intolerance

Suspension trauma can occur when a person has an arrested fall and is suspended in a safety harness which places pressure on the veins and arteries in the legs, causing tissue damage.

Blood becomes trapped in the legs which reduces the ability of the body to send oxygen to the brain, slows down their heart rate, causing them to pass out.

The risks of this condition can be exacerbated by heat and dehydration, which should be taken into particular account in the Australian climate.

Retrieving a worker who is stuck in a safety harness as soon as possible is vital to reducing their risk of permanent injury or death. This is why it is extremely important to ensure that workers on site are trained and capable of rescuing those who may have fallen and remain trapped in a harness. Understanding the risk of Suspension Intolerance or Harness Hang Syndrome is necessary when site work needs to be performed at height.

Preventing Suspension Intolerance

In order to prevent the occurrence of suspension intolerance, the following should be noted:

  • No work at height is ever undertaken alone, even when a harness is being used
  • Workers use harnesses that allow legs to be horizontal
  • Any time spent suspended in a harness should be limited to less than 5 minutes. If time suspended is likely to extend longer than this time frame, some way of placing weight on the legs should be provided.

While suspended in a harness after a fall, workers should do the following:

  • Move their legs and feet in the harness if possible, including pushing off any walls or footholds, provided that other injuries don’t interfere with this.
  • Move legs to a horizontal position, as high as possible to allow as much blood flow back to the torso as possible.

Training For Rescues

Any rescue training provided to workers should cover the following:

  • The process of rescue should be undertaken immediately
  • The frequency of training provided should be regularly updated to ensure latest compliance with equipment and first aid guidelines.
  • Workers should minimise risk to themselves during rescue.

If you are looking for scaffolding hire or need knowledgeable and experienced scaffolders, who have hands-on experience in the industry who work together with you and offer expert advice, contact Skelscaff today on 1300 266 607 or contact us via our website.

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