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A construction fall arrest can be deadly without release

If you are an active catch-and-release angler for Maryland striped bass, you may be aware of the cautions that the state's Department of Natural Resources issue regarding the pastime. While lauding the conscientiousness of the practice, the DNR notes that "any capture event is stressful." And so, officials urge, "careful and quick" revival and return of the fish to the water, especially in summer.

What might surprise some readers is that the same fundamental rules apply when the subject on the end of the line is a construction worker who has fallen from some significant height.

According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards, employers who have people operating above certain heights must keep those workers safe by one of several methods. One option is a special safety harness combined with training of all workers on its proper use.

Personal fall arrest devices do save lives, but they can also lead to serious or deadly injury if rescue takes too long. That's where the crew training comes in.

The condition of concern is suspension trauma, more formally known as orthostatic intolerance. It can occur after arrest of the worker's if he or she is left dangling. Studies indicate suspension trauma can cause unconsciousness. And in less than 30 minutes, it can lead to the worker's death, unless the person is retrieved and laid horizontally so normal blood flow can resume.

Ensuring workplace safety is a standard that nearly every employer is obliged to meet by law. But regardless of whether it is fulfilled, workers injured on the job have a right to seek benefits through workers' compensation. To be sure your rights are upheld to the fullest degree possible, consult an experienced attorney.

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