Trauma Safety Strap Enhances Fall Protection for Construction Workers

Thu October 08, 2020 - Northeast Edition #21
Ken Liebeskind -CEG Correspondent

A trauma safety strap that attaches to a harness construction workers wear on the job enhances fall protection for workers. 3M of St. Paul, Minn., the company that makes the Fall Protection Suspension Safety Strap, is now including it with all harnesses it sells.
A trauma safety strap that attaches to a harness construction workers wear on the job enhances fall protection for workers. 3M of St. Paul, Minn., the company that makes the Fall Protection Suspension Safety Strap, is now including it with all harnesses it sells.



A trauma safety strap that attaches to a harness construction workers wear on the job enhances fall protection for workers.

3M of St. Paul, Minn., the company that makes the Fall Protection Suspension Safety Strap, is now including it with all harnesses it sells.

"We've gotten feedback from frontline workers, so we're making it a standard feature on every harness," Tim Thompson, a 3M global marketing manager, said.

The product also can be purchased separately and can be offered by other harness manufacturers with its products, he said.

"The safety strap is a piece of webbing rolled into a pouch with multiple web loops workers can unzip during a fall," Thompson said, adding that it is made with sewing machines.

Thompson said the safety straps can prevent specific construction fall injuries.

"A potential hazard for a worker suspended upright by fall arrest equipment is orthostatic intolerance or suspension trauma. This is caused by restricted blood circulation and blood accumulating in the legs due to the force of gravity and lack of movement. It can lead to organ damage or even death, so it's critical suspended workers be rescued quickly. Suspension trauma safety strips lessen this risk. A pair of straps are attached to a fall harness at the hips. When workers fall, they can uncoil the straps, hook them together and stand up, bracing their weight against the straps. This simple action takes weight off the arteries and restores blood circulation."

"It is a life-saving piece of equipment," said Paul Haining, chief environmental health and safety officer of Skanska USA/New York. "If someone falls, the harness hangs from the anchor point and they're suspended so the strap gives them a means to relieve themselves so they can stand up. They reach up to their pouches and unzip them and hook them together so pressure gets taken off and they can be suspended for a longer time without risk."

Skanska worked with 3M to promote the product in affiliation with Construction Safety Week, Sept. 14 to 18, that drove awareness around measures that keep workers safe. It is working with the Construction Industry Safety Initiative Group (CISI) on the project.

"The collaboration between 3M, Skanska and the CISI group is a testament of our shared commitment of eliminating incidents on site and making it a more safer and inclusive environment for all workers," said Jeremy Saum, chair of the CISI group and safety director at J.F. Shea Construction, Walnut, Calif.

According to OSHA, the leading cause of construction fatalities is falls, so harnesses are one of the most important pieces of personal protection equipment as they hold the wearer upright in the event of a fall. Suspension trauma safety straps further protect the worker by alleviating the additional health risks from suspension trauma, one of the potential hazards for a worker suspended upright by fall arrest equipment.

Skanska has 7,900 employees nationwide.

"When it comes to safety, we believe there should be no extra costs or other barriers associated with protecting anyone's life," Haining said. "Risk is an inherent part of our work in the construction industry. Our collaborative work with 3M on this universal reinforcement measure for new harnesses is a prime example of how we are continually developing new technologies to raise construction safety standards and ensure the safest work environments on all of our job sites."

Thompson said the safety strap is part of 3M's commitment to worker safety.

"Our mission is to advance safety, and as long as there are injuries and fatalities on job sites, there will always be room for improvement. There is absolutely a need for us to drive change so every worker can go home safely at the end of the day."

Haining believes the safety straps are part of Skanska's and 3M's drive to reduce construction fatalities and improve worker safety.

"The latest statistics on construction fatalities in the United States are from 2018, when over 1,000 people died," he said. "Historically, we haven't moved the needle much — over the last 20 years there are consistently 700 to 1,000 fatalities, annually. This is totally unacceptable. While there's concerted effort to improve safety, we still have a long way to go. I'm excited about what we've accomplished with 3M. It's incumbent upon us to continue working together and look for opportunities, no matter how small."

Thompson said, "All remaining North American harnesses will have suspension trauma safety straps by the end of 2021." CEG