When safety devices for workers present significant hazards

Construction workers performing their jobs at significant heights face risks on a daily basis. Continued improvements in safety equipment have helped protect them from potentially deadly falls.

However, those same devices have serious and potentially deadly side effects.

A worker wearing a fall-arrest system that prevents them from hitting the ground may still suffer injuries. Orthostatic intolerance, commonly known as suspension trauma, is often the result of these high-risks slip-and-falls.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines suspension trauma as "the development of symptoms such as light-headedness, poor concentration, palpitations, tremulousness, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, headache, sweating, weakness and occasionally fainting during upright standing."

As a worker remains suspended and dangles before rescue workers arrive, their continuous immobility creates “venous pooling” where blood collects in their immobile legs. Circulation is reduced and can lead to unconsciousness and death.

According to OSHA, the body reacts to pooling by speeding up the heart rate to maintain sufficient blood flow to the brain. A significantly reduced blood supply will prevent that from happening. As the heart rate abruptly slows down, blood pressure diminishes in the arteries.

More severe cases result in an accident victim fainting or experiencing potentially fatal kidney failure.

Workers who fall while wearing fall-arrest systems should remember two words: move fast. According to OSHA, speed is vital after the fall. They only have 30 minutes before unconsciousness or death.

OSHA also recommends:

  • Confirm that protective equipment is properly worn and fitted
  • Identify signs and symptoms of suspension trauma and how accidents can occur
  • Employ appropriate and effective rescue procedures and methods to reduce risk while suspended

Many work-related accidents are unavoidable. While options exist to prevent injuries, injured employees can also explore possible workers’ compensation benefits.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
Contact the Firm
Dawkins & Gowens Law Firm

Dawkins & Gowens Law Firm
1601 NW Expressway, Suite 1210
Oklahoma City, OK 73118

Toll Free: 866-439-5849
Phone: 405-254-8461
Fax: 405-843-1246
Oklahoma City Law Office Map


Contact Our Firm Today

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy