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How employers can help prevent suspension trauma

For New Jersey employees who are required to work at great heights, having fall arrest personal safety equipment in place is crucial to keeping them safe in the event of a fall. However, this equipment poses some risks. In some cases, employees may be at risk of suffering from suspension trauma if they are suspended in the full-body harness for a long period of time.

Suspension trauma, also called orthostatic intolerance, occurs when a person is immobilized by a full-body fall arrest system after a fall. If the employee remains suspended, he or she could suffer from fainting, weakness and blood accumulation in the veins. Suspension trauma can occur within just a few moments of someone being suspended and may occur even faster if the employee becomes unconscious while wearing the harness. As such, employers should have rescue plans in place that enable the suspended person to be retrieved as quickly as possible.

One way to delay the onset of suspension trauma is to provide relief steps, which is an accessory that is deployed following a fall. It allows fallen workers to stand up in the fall arrest system so that they can flex their leg muscles, allowing their blood to continue flowing. Another option is to provide an integrated self-rescue harness system. This method allows employees to lower themselves to the ground without having to wait for rescue.

An employee who is injured on the job after suffering a fall may be entitled to certain workers' compensation benefits. These can include the payment of medical expenses and in some cases partial wage replacement. An attorney can often be of assistance in ensuring that the required claim forms are complete and filed on a timely basis.

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