Crush Syndrome

When your business is debating fall prevention versus fall protection for workers, you can probably guess that fall prevention is the preferred way to go. You guessed right. Fall prevention is designed to PREVENT falls whereas fall protection is designed to protect AFTER a fall, which in many instances is too late.

Even though you might think fall protection is sufficient for employees, it really isn’t. When a worker falls, there are several injuries that can occur. The worker could fall and swing in an arc hitting the side of a building repeatedly causing substantial damage to him/herself. If there were ever a fire or other emergency, fall protection can actually hinder the employee from freeing him/herself from the apparatus or anchor. The worst thing that can happen is something called harness hang, which can kill in minutes. And if harness hang doesn’t kill you, crush syndrome probably will.

Crush syndrome is most often seen after earthquakes where buildings collapse and a person has some part of their body crushed underneath a heavy object. Hanging around in fall protection equipment, namely a full body harness, can cause crush syndrome around the legs and groin area where the harness is holding tight and cutting off blood flow.

The problem with crush syndrome is that an injury to one part of the body can cause problems in other areas. Damaged muscles start to release toxic chemicals and electrolytes into the blood. Within an hour, the crushing pressure decreases circulation to the affected area. The resulting decrease in oxygen creates a process in the body called anaerobic (without oxygen) metabolism. Cell walls leak when they can no longer hold the cell contents. Eventually some of the cells die off and their toxic contents are dumped into the surrounding tissue. Most often the worker’s body can remain stable for a fairly long period of time. Where the real danger comes in is during the rescue process. Before rescue, appropriate treatment needs to be administered. Once the weight is released, normal blood flow returns to the body and all those dumped cell contents spread through the body pretty rapidly. Without correct treatment from a professional, there can be all sorts of negative effects:

• Excess potassium leaking from cells can disrupt the conductivity of the heart and cause arrhythmias or even cardiac arrest.

• Myoglobin affects the kidneys and can cause renal failure, which may result in death.

• Purines can lead to liver damage and respiratory distress.

Due to the risk of crush syndrome, it is recommended that victims not be released from the crushing pressure right away. Treatment given by a professional, then a slow release of the pressure can help keep the worker from dying.

You can make it much easier on yourself and your workers when you opt for fall prevention whenever possible. Fall prevention protects workers while still allowing them to move freely to get the job done safely. Plus in emergencies workers can evacuate quickly because they are not tied to an anchor or trussed up in a body harness. Choosing between the dangers of fall protection versus the safety of fall prevention suddenly seems like a no-brainer.

Contact Carbis today and find out how we can help your business by designing custom made fall prevention for the workplace.

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