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Preventing suspension trauma

Ohio residents who work from heights face many potential hazards, one of which is suspension trauma. Also known as orthostatic intolerance, this serious health risk occurs when someone falls while wearing a full-body harness and remains suspended for a long period.

Employees who suffer from orthostatic intolerance may experience various symptoms including weakness, venous pooling, which is an accumulation of blood in the veins, fainting and sweating, and dizziness. The condition generally sets in several minutes after someone falls and is especially likely to happen to those who are unconscious while suspended in their full-body harnesses.

It is imperative that employers have emergency rescue plans and the necessary equipment ready in order to quickly assist fallen workers whose personal protective equipment have arrested a fall. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Fall Protection Code also advises that fallen workers are retrieved within six minutes following the incident.

There also are certain safety measures that could prevent or delay orthostatic intolerance. One method is a self-rescue harness device that is part of the full-body harness and that enables workers to lower themselves to the ground. Another technique is a simple prevention device that can be stored inside employees' personal fall arrest systems that can be easily retrieved when needed. This device features a foothold that allows workers to stand upright and flex their leg muscles, which increases blood flow and circulation.

Employees who experience secondary injuries from a workplace accident can file for workers' compensation benefits that may cover a portion of their medical expenses and lost earnings while they took time off to heal. Employees who do not receive the amount of coverage they expect might want to speak with a local attorney for advice.

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