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Recognizing the signs and symptoms of suspension trauma

When working at heights or in situations that involve fall arrest systems, it is crucial to be aware of the potential risks, including suspension trauma. Suspension trauma, also known as harness-induced pathology or orthostatic intolerance, can occur when a person is suspended in a harness for an extended period.

Understanding the signs and symptoms of suspension trauma is essential for prompt recognition and appropriate action. Here are the key indicators to look out for to identify suspension trauma.

The impact of prolonged suspension

Prolonged suspension in a harness can lead to the development of suspension trauma, which occurs when the body remains upright and immobile for an extended duration. In this position, blood pools in the legs, preventing efficient circulation and reducing the body’s ability to supply oxygenated blood to vital organs.

Recognizing the signs and symptoms

Several signs and symptoms can indicate the presence of suspension trauma. These include:

  • Loss of consciousness or dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Leg swelling and numbness
  • Pale or bluish skin
  • Rapid breathing and increased heart rate
  • Fatigue and weakness

Mental confusion or disorientation can also be a sign that a person is suffering from suspension trauma.

Immediate response is crucial

If you suspect someone is experiencing suspension trauma, immediately notify emergency services. Then provide them with accurate information about the situation. Safely lower the person to the ground as soon as possible. Once on the ground, monitor the person’s vital signs and provide basic first aid, if needed, while waiting for professional medical assistance.

Preventing Suspension Trauma

Prevention is key to mitigating the risks of suspension trauma. It is essential to receive proper training on fall protection equipment, including the use of harnesses and the potential risks associated with suspension. Regular safety inspections, timely equipment maintenance and implementing procedures for prompt rescue and medical attention are vital in preventing suspension trauma incidents.

By understanding the indicators of suspension trauma and taking immediate action to rescue and provide appropriate care, potential complications can be minimized.

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