OSHA regulations say that: “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.”
While I certainly believe that employers have a responsibility to provide for prompt rescue, I have a hard time with the second half of that statement. How can you completely assure self rescue?
In a fall arrest situation, it is not unlikely that the fallen worker will undergo some kind of medical problem—either causing the fall or due to something that happens during the fall. Even if a worker would be able to rescue themselves under ideal conditions, I don’t think you can rely on ideal conditions after a fall. We have even worked with one client whose original written rescue plan (before we started working with them) was for fallen workers to reach their mobile phones and call for help. As someone working at heights, would you want to rely on having the ability and wherewithal to locate, reach and accurately call for help after experiencing a fall? I wouldn’t. Next time you see me, ask to see my phone and all of its scratches. I drop it all the time while simply walking around on the ground.
As you are planning for fall protection rescue, I encourage you to consider rescue to involve a minimum of two people – the fallen worker and at least one another who can properly execute a safe and effective rescue plan.