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Harnesses can arrest falls, but risk of suspension trauma remains

Construction company owners in Illinois are responsible for the safety of their employees. This includes those who work at heights, each of whom must be equipped with a fall protection harness and lanyards to arrest accidental falls. Although these safety devices can prevent workers from falling to their deaths, suspension trauma hazards are a significant concern.

After a fall, it is crucial to remove the worker from the harness fast. The fall-arrest equipment keeps the victim suspended in an upright position, unable to move much. When immobility is sustained, unconsciousness can follow, and it could even lead to death. This is as the result of venous pooling, which occurs when blood pools in the immobile legs of the suspended victim, limiting normal blood flow through the body. Typical consequences include palpitations, feeling light-headed, tremulousness, concentration problems, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, headache, weakness and sweating.

These symptoms appear because the venous pooling of blood causes the rate of the heart to speed up as it attempts to move sufficient blood to the brain. When this fails, blood pressure will drop, and the kidneys could fail. A worker who is not rescued from the suspended position quickly could lose consciousness and die within less than 30 minutes.

Victims of fall accidents in the Illinois construction industry are typically eligible for workers' compensation benefits that will cover medical expenses and lost wages. Families of workers who lost their lives in such falls can claim death benefits to assist with the unanticipated financial burden of funeral and burial expenses and lost income. An experienced workers' compensation attorney can navigate the claims process on behalf of injured workers or surviving family members.

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