To some of the industrys hardcore safety adherents, dwelling too much on what happens after an accident is almost blasphemy. With contractors claiming zero tolerance for safety risks and projects visibly promoting their number of "accident free" days, the idea of preparing for an accident seems to undermine that iron-clad commitment to safety. "Id rather talk about prevention," was the reply we received to some of our questions about rescue preparedness.
Yet jobsite accidents, injuries and deaths remain a fact of construction life, with annual U.S. fatality numbers stubbornly exceeding 1,000 since 1994. Omitting the issue of rescue training and preparedness leaves an important component of the safety package unfinished.
Simply dialing 9-1-1 isnt enough. Knowing when and how to attempt a rescue is the first step. Providing professionalsand site employeeswith critical lifesaving information and tools is next. And understanding what rescuers and first-responders can and cant do is the remaining leg of the triangle. Construction firms are often lax in rescue coordination with firefighters, police and emergency service technicians. That must change.
This special report begins with a case study of a complex rescue and recovery last year at the site of a collapsed hotel garage in Atlantic City, N.J. The operation was harrowing but seamlessly blended the skill and determination of firefighters, police, construction workers and engineers.
The report continues with a look at rescue risks and real situations faced in some of constructions most hazardous worksites, from high wires to deep trenches. In the cover photo, the worker desperately trapped by a trench cave-in was lucky. He was saved and recovered.
The lack of federal standards on "prompt rescue" and the private sectors effort to fill that gap are discussed later in the report, as is a look at the array of large and small tools available to the construction workplace to help participants reach victims and limit injuries to workers and rescuers. This report can help guide employers, unions, workers and rescue professionals toward talking about and then preparing to do what is bestjust in case.