Why Calling triple Zero is not the answer to a Rescue Plan

Why Calling triple Zero is not the answer to a Rescue Plan

When working at height you must risk assess everything, and when assessing the risk of a fall you will undoubtedly identify that rescue is required. The action and response time is critical due to the risk of suspension intolerance and calling 000 is not effective, as they would not be able to attend the site and get casualty down in time.  

The below information is directly from the Code of Practice for Managing the risk of falls, section 10 covers emergency procedures and rescue. 


10. Emergency procedures for falls 

Whenever there are risks from working at height, emergency procedures must be established and first aid equipment provided. Typical injuries from falls can include unconsciousness, blocked airway, impalement, serious head or abdominal injuries and fractures. A person using a fall arrest system could also suffer suspension intolerance as a result of being suspended in a harness after a fall. 

WHS Regulation clause 80

Emergency and rescue procedures 

A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) who provides a fall arrest system as a measure to control risk must establish emergency and rescue procedures.

The procedures must be tested so that they are effective. Workers must be provided with suitable and adequate information, instruction and training in relation to the emergency procedures.

When developing emergency procedures the different types of emergency and rescue scenarios that might arise should be considered. Information from the risk assessment will help in this task.



WHS Regulation clause 42
Duty to provide first aid


You must ensure that workers have access to first aid equipment and facilities for the administration of first aid. You must also ensure that workers are trained to administer first aid or that workers have access to people who are trained in first aid.

Further information is contained in the Code of Practice: First aid in the workplace.

The emergency procedures for falls should be incorporated into the emergency plan required for the workplace under the WHS Regulation.


Table 1 lists a number of considerations when establishing emergency procedures for falls. 

 Relevant consideration 


Location of the work area 

Is the work at height being carried out in a remote or isolated place? How accessible is it in an emergency and how far away is it from medical facilities? 

Can the rescue of a person after an arrested fall be provided immediately, without relying on emergency services? 


How can workers working at height communicate in an emergency? 

Rescue equipment 

What kinds of emergencies may arise? The provision of suitable rescue equipment will depend on the nature of the work and the control measures used, for example an emergency rapid response kit with man-made fibre rope, according to AS/NZS 4142.3: 1993: Fibre ropes—Man-made fibre rope for static life rescue lines. 

Selected rescue equipment should be kept in close proximity to the work area so that it can be used immediately. 

Capabilities of rescuers 

Are rescuers properly trained, sufficiently fit to carry out their task and capable of using equipment provided for rescue, for example breathing apparatus, lifelines and firefighting equipment? 

Have emergency procedures been tested to demonstrate that they are effective? 

First aid 

Is first aid available for injuries associated with falls? 

Are trained first aid officers available to make proper use of necessary first aid equipment? 

Local emergency services—if they are to be relied on for rescue 

How will the local emergency services, like ambulance, be notified of an incident? What is the likely response time?



10.1. Suspension intolerance 

Suspension intolerance can occur with a fall arrest system when a person has an arrested fall and is suspended in an upright, vertical position. The capacity of the lower legs to store large amounts of blood reduces the return of blood to the heart, slowing the heart rate, which can cause the person to faint. This may lead to renal failure and eventually death, depending on a person’s susceptibility. This condition may be worsened by heat and dehydration. 

The quick rescue of a person suspended in a harness, as soon as possible, is vital. For this reason, workers should be capable of conducting a rescue of a fallen worker and be familiar with on-site rescue equipment and procedures. 

Relevant workers must be trained in the rescue procedures. It is important for workers to be able to recognise the risks of suspension intolerance and act quickly in the rescue of a person. 

Preventing suspension intolerance 

To prevent suspension intolerance occurring as a result of an arrested fall, you should ensure that: 

- workers never work alone when using a harness as fall protection 

-workers use a harness, which allows legs to be kept horizontal 

- where the rescue is likely to take more than five minutes the harness and connection point used should allow the suspended worker to raise their legs to near horizontal, or the worker should carry straps to provide footholds 

- workers are trained to do the following when they are hanging in their harness after a fall: 

move their legs in the harness and push against any footholds, where these movements are possible. In some instances, the harness design and any injuries received may prevent this movement 

move their legs or legs and body to a near horizontal position, where these movements are possible. 


10.2. Training for rescues 

The training for rescuing workers who have fallen should address the following factors: 

- the rescue process should start immediately 

- training frequency should take into account the worker’s competence and their ability to retain competence through regular exposure to the equipment and skills needed to perform a rescue 

- workers should not put themselves at risk during a rescue. 



Rescue equipment and training should be a staple part of any at height or Confined space works. We have designed rescue plans for construction sites from jump Form, Tower Crane and swinging stages to Swimming pools and skate parks. If there is a rescue plan you are wanting to design we can help provide a holistic solution including Demonstrations, Equipment Supply and Training.

Contact us for any further information.

e | greg@harnessequipment.com.au

p | (02) 8018 8301