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Relieving suspension trauma

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article image The foot loop improves circulation.

THE way to survive a fall from height is to wear a full body harness, but the minutes that tick by while suspended after the fall are just as critical to survival.

While thought to be rare, suspension trauma or orthostatic intolerance, has been blamed for the deaths of cavers awaiting rescue. A simple device to be launched in October at The Safety Show by Bacou-Dalloz takes the trauma out of this type of suspension.

Suspension trauma sets in when the body is suspended motionlessly, affecting blood circulation. After a sustained fall, harnesses work very effectively to hold people in an upright position and if left immobile, blood can accumulate in the legs, which in turn reduces the amount in circulation.

The reduction in the quality and quantity of blood to vital organs in the body can cause the suspended worker to lapse into a state of unconsciousness. If the worker is not rescued promptly, the outcome could be fatal.

Until recently, there have been only limited options in the prevention of suspension trauma. The first is to ensure you are working in such a way where a free fall is not possible (working in restraint). The second is ensuring there is a rescue plan in place where the victim is recovered within a very tight time frame (less than 5 minutes).

Now, workers have the option of the Relief Step. The design is a compact lightweight pack, which is adaptable to any type or brand of harness.

It works by looping through and attaching to a worker's harness. In the event of a fall, the worker can deploy the pack, exposing a foot loop. By placing the opposite foot in the loop and adjusting the webbing, the worker is able to transfer some body weight to their feet, enabling the leg muscles to flex, thus increasing circulation.

The company also supplies a wide range of personal protective equipment, including Bilsom hearing protection, Willson and Survivair respiratory protection, Pulsafe eyewear, Optrel welding products and Biosystems gas detection.

The Miller Relief Step will be launched at stand E54 of The Safety Show, which runs from 13-15 October at the Sydney Showground, Sydney Olympic Park.

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