Fall-Protection Rescue Plan

Last updated: February 3, 2019

What Does Fall-Protection Rescue Plan Mean?

A fall-protection rescue plan is a plan for rescuing workers who have fallen from height; in particular, it is a plan to protect workers who are suspended by a fall-protection system.

It is typically put forth as a written policy that describes the procedures and methods necessary to perform a rescue, and it makes reference to how those procedures should be applied to specific fall-hazard locations in a workplace.

Safeopedia Explains Fall-Protection Rescue Plan

Effective and efficient fall-protection rescue plans are important for preventing individuals from suffering the effects of suspension trauma—pain, unconsciousness, or death resulting from extended hanging in a harness—as well as for ensuring that workers can be treated for any injuries they receive due to the fall or due to the incident that caused the fall. Factors involved in creating a rescue plan include deciding which onsite personnel will be involved in the rescue, what kind of equipment will be needed to conduct the rescue, what hazards are present in the rescue area, and how much training is necessary to act in a rescue capacity.

OSHA’s fall-protection standard specifies that a suspended worker must be rescued “promptly” by the employer after a fall. While the meaning of “promptly” isn’t provided, this requirement indicates that negligence in planning to retrieve a fallen worker may be considered a breach of an employer’s general-duty obligations to provide a safe workplace.

The non-governmental American National Standards Institute (ANSI) also requires the creation of a fall-protection plan under its Z359 regulations. Specifically, Z359 requires companies to have a written rescue plan in place for each piece of fall-protection equipment used in the workplace. As Z359 is a nationally recognized safety standard that has been referenced in the United States, the creation of a rescue plan is required by U.S. employers as a compliance obligation under OSHA’s General Duty Clause, and it must be site-specific.

Furthermore, ANSI Z359.2, which specifies “Minimum Requirements for a Comprehensive Fall Protection Program,” has been recognized by fall-protection firms as defining the duties and responsibilities that OSHA requires, including managing incident and rescue events. Other non-U.S. jurisdictions, such as the United Kingdom, also legally obligate employers or worksite owners to have a rescue plan in place.


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