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Preventing suspension trauma after an arrested fall

Workers in New Jersey who work at height may be interested in information about suspension trauma. Full-body harnesses can prevent falls, but they can also lead to suspension trauma, which can cause dizziness, loss of consciousness and, in rare cases, death.

Suspension trauma is a type of orthostatic intolerance, which happens when someone remains in the same position for a long period of time. A common example is dizziness when abruptly standing after having been in bed for a long period of time. In cases where a worker is suspended in a harness, the worker may lose consciousness due to a decrease in blood flow. Though rare, orthostatic intolerance can be fatal if a worker is not rescued from the harness in a short amount of time.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration suggests that employers have plans in place to rescue workers quickly from full-body harnesses. In addition, workers could be equipped with devices that can be used with a harness to provide a foothold so that the worker can flex their legs to keep blood circulating. Fall protection systems could also include a self-rescue device that allows a worker suspended in a harness to gradually lower to the ground.

OSHA regulations require quick rescue after a worker has fallen. It is recommended that contact be made with a fallen worker within six minutes after a fall accident occurs.

Most workplace injuries are covered by Workers' Compensation because the law requires that nearly all employers provide it for their employees. Workers' Compensation is a no-fault insurance, which means that an injured worker is entitled to file a claim regardless of who is at fault for the work injury. Not all claims result in a successful outcome for the worker, however, and employers have a right to dispute workers' compensation claims. An injured worker could benefit from legal representation when filing a workers' compensation claim.

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