Rescue plan when working at height


When somebody is unconscious and dangling from a rope, every second counts. If you see your co-worker in an awkward position or state can bring certain emotions. This is probably relief at first, because your colleague is still hanging in his harness. But, after witnessing an event like such, action is needed real fast! Then, having a plan in place at that time is absolutely necessary to make sure the worker is helped as swiftly as possible.

With a fall protection rescue plan, procedures are put in place to rescue workers when a fall accident has occurred. While a basic fall protection plan or guide covers the outlines of safe working at height in order to prevent fall accidents, a fall protection rescue plan is aimed at rescueing workers after a fall.

On this page, we will share some practical tips and guidelines in drafting an effective and safe fall protection rescue plan.


As described already, a basic fall protection plan or guide only covers the guidelines for safe working at height to prevent fall accidents. A fall protection rescue plan is something completely different. This plan is a guideline for rescuing workers after they have fallen and rescue is needed.

A fall protection rescue plan describes the procedures to rescue the victim of a fall accident.


When a fall arrest system saves a user from serious injuries or worse, there is a relief amongst co-workers that their colleague is safe, at first sight.

The next step is to bring the fallen worker down safely and quickly. There will be some form of panic after the fall and guidelines are needed to effectively run through certain steps to execute the rescue operation.

Emergency services don’t always have the right equipment to save someone that is suspended at height. A fall protection rescue plan will provide guidance in what is needed to save a person.

Want to know about the rules and regulations concerning a fall protection rescue plan? Read this article about OSHA and ANSI.


A fall protection rescue plan (or for short, a rescue plan) is basically a pre-established guideline which will provide the tools aimed at rescuing workers after a fall.

Before a rescue plan is written, a proper pre-assessment of the worksite is needed and all rescue procedures need to be covered. This plan is not a static document, but after each incident or violation it needs to be updated!

Find out about who, where, what and how before rescue procedures can be created.

  • What rescue systems can/will be used in case a rescue is needed?
  • And do you know the location of rescue anchorage and materials?
  • All equipment types, attachment points on the harnesses
  • What are the types of training required
  • Do you know the actions for a successful rescue

A fall protection plan covers all the guidelines for working at height safe and to prevent accidents when working at height. A rescue plan on the other hand, describes all the procedures to rescue somebody who has actually fallen from height.

For your convenience, we have created a template in an interactive PDF format, which can be downloaded for free.

Rescue plan

4 reasons why a rescue plan is needed

1. Preparation

Preventing the fall from happening is the most important aspect. This is why fall protection regulations are set up for safe working at height.

But, whenever the fall protection system has arrested the fall, a rescue plan must come into effect to comfort and help the fallen worker and bring him safely to the ground as quick as possible.

2. Workers can become unwell without falling first

Besides needing a rescue plan for workers who fell from heights, workers can also get unwell or collapse while working. This could happen when they are working on a roof for example. Knowing how to transport workers to an ambulance at ground level can save lives.

3. Harness Suspension Trauma can occur

When dangling in a harness above the ground, the worker has to be rescued quickly, before a Harness Suspension Trauma (HST) occurs. HST is an effect that occurs when the human body is held upright in a harness without any movement for a period of time.

Quick response and rescue is needed, because the leg straps of the harness can disrupt the blood circulation, leading to disrupted blood flow back to the brains and vital organs. Eventually, this can be fatal.

For more information about Harness Suspension Trauma, read the blog about how to prevent HST after a fall arrest.

4. Time is not on your side

When an incident happens, every second counts. Pre-established guidelines are definitely needed to perform the correct actions fast and not to waste any time.

Like stated before, emergency services don’t always have the experience or equipment and this will cause delay.

The effects of Harness Suspension Trauma


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