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The Guardian Fall Team Blog

If you have ever been involved in an industry where the donning of personal fall protection equipment was a necessity, you have (more than likely) heard of the standard, “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.”

Over the years, I have been asked countless times, “How long is ‘prompt’ exactly?” A very good question, for that matter, what does prompt really mean?

The dictionary defines prompt as, “done immediately, quick to act, or without delay.” All excellent definitions; however, when you’re looking for a numerical answer, these definitions just won’t work.

From my own personal research, I have found the industry consensus of a prompt rescue to range somewhere between ten to twenty minutes. Of course, as I sit here typing at my desk, this amount of time seems acceptable. But after being suspended in the air in the event of a free fall, I’m confident that my body would vehemently disagree.

I am fortunate enough to have never experienced a significant free fall while on the job, but I have been suspended in a real-time simulation while teaching both Competent Person and Rescue classes at HART. I highly recommend (especially if you are responsible for purchasing the harnesses for your workers) contacting a professional training site that offers controlled and safe facilities so that you, yourself, can experience a real-time fall suspension simulation.

Be sure to keep in mind that in this simulation, you will have only been hoisted a few inches or feet off the ground and have not experienced the uncontrollable path or violent forces of deceleration and arrest that come in the event of a free fall.

In knowing what it’s like to actually be suspended as well as exactly how long it takes to be rescued from suspension, you may consider some upgrades to your worker’s personal fall protection equipment as well as even reconsider your current site-specific rescue plan.

It’s these considerations that allow us to better ensure the safety of our workers while on the job.