The Importance of Developing a Rescue Plan

A rescue plan is a pre-planned strategy or procedure, designed to safely retrieve someone who has fallen from height and is suspended in a harness. It provides information about the type and location of equipment that are vital in the rescue process.

The HSE requires that your rescue plan is properly planned, supervised and carried out by people who are right for the job. You can check if someone is suitable for this role by checking that they have sufficient skills and experience to perform rescue operations. This plan and the resources must be replenished and updated regularly to ensure the best possible equipment is on hand. 

The legal requirement for rescue is specified in the ‘Work at Height Regulations 2005’ and require every employer in selecting work equipment for use in work at height to take account of the need for easy and timely evacuation and rescue in an emergency. Scaffolders may need to be rescued from height for a number of reasons, for example, operatives who have suffered a heart attack on a working platform and those who have injuries as a result of slips/trips or pulled muscles.

Rescue planning must form an integral part of the job and must not be reliant on the emergency services. When planning for rescue, consideration should be given to the type of situation from which a casualty may need to be recovered, and the type of fall protection equipment that the casualty would be using. 

Manufacturers provide various types of suspension relief equipment for use by a suspended person. This type of equipment is only suitable for conscious and able casualties. They are not an alternative to rescue. The rescue planning flow chart offers guidance on the steps to be taken in preparing a procedure/plan for the rescue of someone injured on a working platform or suspended in a harness following a fall. You should make sure that people with sufficient skills, knowledge and experience are employed to perform the task, or, if they are being trained, that they work under the supervision of somebody competent to do it. 

When a more technical level of competence is required, for example drawing up a plan for assembling a complex scaffold, existing training and certification schemes drawn up by trade associations and industry is one way to help demonstrate competence. Before work commences, the scaffold contractor should verify that the rescue plan is appropriate and achievable, especially with respect to the path of a casualty and suitable anchor points.

Before starting work scaffolders should be given training, which is recorded by their employer, covering the appropriate rescue procedure and rescue equipment provided for the type of structure they are working on, so they are immediately aware of what action to take and whom to contact in the event of an emergency, thus effecting a rescue as quickly as possible. It is essential that periodic refresher training is carried out at appropriate intervals. Training should be repeated if circumstances change significantly on-site e.g. new personnel, design changes, new equipment introduced etc. Refresher training should be provided on a regular basis to prevent skill fade.

At Double, our technical knowledge and competency with advanced structural analysis software allows us to design complicated scaffolding structures, ensuring that each component and connection throughout the scaffold system can withstand the loads imposed. All our working designs are provided with supporting calculations. We utilise the calculation phase to optimise our designs, allowing us to reduce the amount of equipment required while still ensuring the scaffolding is fit for its purpose and adheres to the relevant codes of practice.

Get in touch with us today to discuss your next project, knowing you’ll be in the safe hands of one of the most experienced scaffold design consultancy businesses in the UK. 


NASC SG19:17 A Guide to Formulating a Rescue Plan – January 2017

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