THE REASON BRILLIANT IDEAS CREATED THE SAFETY NET RECOVERY SYSTEM, AKA ‘THE BOOTHY BAG’
Whilst installing precast hollow core slabs on the third floor of a job, one of our staff had a cardiac arrest. Our employee fell backwards onto the scaffolding and his work colleagues quickly got to him to perform CPR. They kept him alive until the paramedics arrived to defibrillate him and take him to hospital.
The paramedics congratulated our staff on their response to the incident and said with their quick intervention it gave them a fighting chance to save his life. The casualty was taken straight to Kettering hospital where he received intensive treatment but unfortunately never recovered and he died two weeks later.
As a small company, losing a work colleague who died at just 50 years old was extremely distressing and upsetting for us all. It has affected the whole company. We have looked at ourselves to see if there was anything else we could have done and carried out a full in house investigation. We have since undertaken extra training for all our staff and now make sure that every gang has at least two people trained in first aid including CPR and the use of a defibrillator.
What was highlighted during our investigation into this incident was the discovery of some surprising defects in the risk and rescue procedures. This applied to ours, our clients and in fact every site we work on. What stood out most was that if our colleague had not fallen backwards onto the scaffolding but instead fell forwards into the fall protection net then there would be NO way to help him quickly. A second or maybe third person would need to be in the net which would be putting them all at risk of serious injury and CPR cannot be performed while the casualty is in the net.
We discovered that every site’s recovery procedure from nets was to say the least… Inadequate!
After the incident had taken place the emergency services were called immediately whilst our staff continued to perform CPR, the paramedics were there in around 10 minutes with the fire brigade around 15 minutes behind them. It is now apparent that the paramedics are not trained in this area and would not be able to retrieve the victim from the net. To perform their life saving duties the casualty needs to be safely on the ground. The paramedics would have had to wait for the fire brigade to arrive. We have been told by the fire brigade that trying to recover someone from a net on the third floor of a construction site is not a generic situation so a risk assessment would have to be complete before the rescue performed. All this would take a huge amount of time, if no CPR or defibrillation has been performed on the casualty in the first 11 minutes there is only a 10% chance of survival.
The site’s emergency net recovery plan was to get a plank/board and try to hold up the 17 stone + man who would have been hanging between 2- 3 metres up in the air, whilst a third person looks for a hop up and cuts the net. They would then try and gently lower him down so CPR and the use of a defibrillator could safely take place on the ground.
It was obvious to us that this situation is totally unacceptable. If someone has fallen into a safety net and is unable to retrieve themselves, say they have had a cardiac arrest, fit or black out, been knocked out by a swinging crane chain hook or attached item, bleeding very heavily or even just fell into the net and broken an arm or leg then recovery from the safety net is to say the least, a slow perilous procedure. To overcome this problem in the future we invented the NET RECOVERY SYSTEM a.k.a the “Boothy Bag”.
Whilst developing the recovery system our staff have affectionately called it the “Boothy Bag” out of respect for our lost colleague who gave us the inspiration to make it.