Suspension trauma, also known as harness hang syndrome or orthostatic intolerance, is a potentially life-threatening condition that can occur when a person is suspended in a harness for an extended period. This danger is particularly pertinent in industries like construction, window washing, and tree care, where workers may find themselves suspended in harnesses while performing tasks at height. At KC Supply Co., we recognize the importance of raising awareness about suspension trauma and taking proactive measures to prevent it. Here’s what you need to know to stay safe.

  1. Recognizing the Risk: Suspension trauma occurs when a person is suspended upright in a harness, causing blood to pool in the legs and reducing circulation to the brain and vital organs. This can lead to unconsciousness, cardiac arrest, and even death if not addressed promptly. Workers who are at risk of suspension trauma must be aware of the potential dangers and trained to recognize the symptoms, including dizziness, nausea, sweating, and shortness of breath.
  2. Proper Harness Fit and Inspection: Ensuring that harnesses fit properly and are in good condition is essential for preventing suspension trauma. Workers should be trained on how to properly don and adjust their harnesses to ensure a snug and secure fit. Additionally, harnesses should be inspected regularly for any signs of wear or damage that could compromise their effectiveness. Employers should provide workers with high-quality harnesses that meet industry safety standards and replace any damaged or worn-out equipment immediately.
  3. Implementing Rescue Plans: In the event of a fall and subsequent suspension, prompt rescue is critical to preventing suspension trauma. Employers must have comprehensive rescue plans in place and ensure that all workers are trained on how to initiate and execute a rescue operation safely. This includes knowing how to use rescue equipment such as descent devices, rope systems, and harnesses with suspension relief straps. Regular rescue drills should be conducted to ensure that workers are prepared to respond effectively in an emergency situation.
  4. Utilizing Suspension Relief Systems: Suspension relief systems, such as suspension trauma straps or step platforms, can help alleviate the effects of suspension trauma by allowing workers to relieve pressure on their legs and improve circulation while suspended. These systems should be integrated into workers’ harnesses and used according to manufacturer guidelines. Additionally, employers should consider implementing systems that allow for prompt self-rescue or assisted rescue in the event of a fall.
  5. Training and Education: Comprehensive training and education are key to preventing suspension trauma in the workplace. Workers should be educated on the risks associated with working at height and suspended in harnesses, as well as trained on proper safety procedures and protocols. This includes knowing how to recognize the signs of suspension trauma, how to administer first aid, and how to initiate a rescue operation if necessary.

By raising awareness about suspension trauma and implementing proactive safety measures, organizations can help protect workers from this potentially life-threatening condition. At KC Supply Co., we’re committed to providing businesses with the tools and resources they need to ensure the safety and well-being of their employees. Together, we can work towards a safer future where suspension trauma is a rare occurrence rather than a risk of everyday work at height.