RR708 - Evidence-based review of the current guidance on first aid measures for suspension trauma

In 2002 the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) published a review entitled 'Harness Suspension: Review and Evaluation of Existing Information'. It was noted in this report that the rescue plan was an essential part of fall protection arrangements. The report quoted and summarised advice extracted from various papers concerning harness suspension and noted that, 'some of the advice appears to conflict'. Nevertheless, although this document was not intended to be a review of the medical advice for rescue from suspension it has been frequently cited in such a context and in support of measures that differ from standard UK first aid practice. Consequently, it was the recognition that authoritative guidance was needed for first responders, in the workplace setting, to any cases of a fall into harness suspension, which led to this project being undertaken.

The Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) was asked to review the advice and guidance available on suspension trauma. This review was used to address the questions of whether the current information and advice available for treating suspension trauma casualties was adequate and in line with current practice and recommendations, and whether there was a need for HSE to produce guidance.

This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its contents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.

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Updated 2021-04-23