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The Guardian Fall Team Blog

On March 4, 2011, two workers in Yonkers, New York were working on a scaffold on the twelfth story of a twenty-seven story building when the scaffolding collapsed. Both workers had personal fall arrest harnesses on that prevented them from falling to their deaths. Hanging from their harnesses twelve floors above the ground, the only thing likely on their mind was one word: Rescue.

Having a rescue plan is one of the most overlooked aspects of fall protection. On a good worksite, the use of harnesses, lanyards, and anchor points is a daily occurrence and accidents are rare. Rescue techniques might not even cross a worker’s mind until it’s too late. Despite this frequent oversight, having a rescue plan is an OSHA requirement. OSHA 1926.502(d)(20) of subpart M states “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.”

David Nadaeu has been a firefighter lieutenant and construction safety specialist for eighteen years. I recently spoke with him about the importance of prompt rescues and his development of the Rapid Deployment Rescue Ladder. Having been personally involved in dozens of rescues, he saw firsthand the difficulties both victims and rescuers had after a fall. “I wanted a way to reduce the risk to emergency responders and victims.” David said. “It took me a couple of years to find a company that would help me develop and design the rescue ladder but when I contacted Guardian and met Guardian's President, Ed Marquardt, it was a perfect fit.”

The Rapid Deployment Rescue Ladder is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a fold down ladder that can be quickly attached to an anchor point and used to rescue someone after a fall. The amount of time someone is suspended in a harness after a fall is critical. If the worker hangs for too long they can get what’s called ‘suspension trauma’ after they are rescued. This can be deadly. Since the RDRL can be implemented so quickly, this danger is greatly decreased.

Specifically unique to the RDRL are the product’s features that can be easily overlooked. The nylon rollers are designed so that in the event that the ladder is used against a flat surface like a tank wall, wind turbine or naceal, building facades, the nylon rollers provide enough distance so that the fallen individual or potential rescuer can safely and easily use the ladder rungs.

Secondly, the ladder is actually rated for fall arrest while tied off at your feet. This is extremely valuable in the event a rescuer needs to reach the victim. They need a secure place of attachment to work from while in restraint or arrest.

Lastly, the RDRL is so simple to use anyone can use it without expensive annual or bi annual training. “What I think is the greatest feature of the Rapid Deployment Rescue Ladder is that David designed a system that allows the fallen victim to rescue themselves quickly while not jeopardizing a fellow coworker” said Ed Marquardt.

The RDRL comes with a training video. Guardian also has a program where we come out to your site and show you the advantages of the RDRL. The RDRL is an excellent addition to anyone’s rescue plan whether it is a jobsite, or an industrial facility. Having a variety of options is critical as not all accidents have the same rescue solutions.

In Yonkers, there was no rescue ladder. Firefighters were called to the scene and after determining their ladder was not long enough, they sent a firefighter from the roof of the building with a descending device to get the workers back on the ground. The entire procedure took about an hour. Neither of the workers were significantly injured, but the time they were in danger could have been lessened with a good rescue plan in place.