Suspension trauma can cause fatal construction workers’ accidents


The risks of falls are par for the course in the construction industry nationwide, including in California. Workers might find comfort in knowing that their employers provide fall arrest systems to those who work at heights. However, they may not know that the danger continues after the PPE arrested the fall. Suspension trauma can claim the lives of workers who are suspended and waiting to be rescued.

When a worker is suspended motionless in an upright position in a fall harness, blood accumulates in the legs because the flow is restricted. Stress and environmental pressure can exacerbate the workers’ condition and accelerate the onset of suspension trauma. Most newer brands of fall arrest systems are designed with a feature that provides the fall victim with an extra built-in strap that could allow him or her to settle into a sitting position to avoid restricting blood flow to the heart.

When suspension trauma sets in, the victim can die within 30 minutes. Employers are urged to replace old fall arrest systems with newer models, some of which are also equipped with back supports and straps that go across the worker’s chest to provide support for the head and neck. Providing workers with adequate safety training in how to use the fall arrest systems and deploy the additional features when necessary is essential. With all these features, rescue workers will have more time to ensure the fall victim is brought to safety in a controlled manner.

Victims of workplace injuries caused by falls from elevated levels can pursue workers’ compensation benefits claims that would cover all the injury-related medical expenses and lost wages. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can assist with the challenging benefits claims process. In California, the state-regulated system also provides death benefits to the surviving family members of workers who lost their lives in workplace accidents.

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