Choosing the right rescue and safety equipment for your needs

Participant with a rescue device during a tower rescue exercise.

Having the right equipment on hand to respond to an emergency is just as important as making sure your rescue plans are comprehensive and your team is trained properly.

Understanding where to start when it comes to selecting rescue and emergency response equipment for your workplace can be daunting. There are so many different pieces of equipment, from different manufacturers and suppliers, each with their own strengths and weaknesses compared to others.

This blog post will go through some basics for common rescue scenarios and provide some examples of the typical equipment that HSE can supply.

We always recommend that you discuss your specific needs with our experts. You can call us on 1300 884 978 or email

Emergency basics

There are a couple of basic items that every site and workplace should have on hand to respond to accidents.

Perhaps the most obvious item is a first aid kit. A first aid kit allows basic incidents to be quickly responded to – like cuts, abrasions and sprains.

Fire extinguishers and firefighting equipment should also present. It should be checked that the types of extinguishers present at the site or workplace will be suitable for the types of fires that are likely to occur.

Falls from height

Falls from height remain one of those most common causes of workplace injury in Australia.

When responding to a fall from height, there are two main ways that a casualty can be recovered – they can be lowered to the ground/a lower level of the structure or be raised up to the level of the rescuers. After that, they can be transported off-site to receive medical attention.

The important thing about performing a rescue following a fall from height is that it be undertaken as quickly as possible. Even if the casualty appears uninjured, suspension trauma can set in within 10 minutes.

Two commonly purchased rescue devices for recovering workers after a fall are the SpanSet Gotcha kit and 3M Rollgliss R550.

The Gotcha kit is a pre-rigged pulley rescue system that allows a worker to be either raised or lowered for recovery by a single rescuer.

Our team has found the Gotcha kit is well-suited to a variety of common work environments including construction and industrial sectors.

The 3M Rollgliss R550 is a more mechanical solution to performing a fall rescue. The geared descender allows a casualty to be lowered at a steady, consistent rate. It can be optioned with rope lines up to 100m in length, providing it with the ability to be used across a wide range of working at heights scenarios.

Confined space rescue

While falls from height are the most common cause of workplace injury, it could be argued that confined spaces are the most dangerous environment to work in. The restrictions on movement and limited ingress and egress points mean that emergency responses and rescue plans must be carefully considered prior to work starting.

Use of a gas detector can help identify if the atmosphere in a confined space is breathable. The MSA Altair range of gas detectors are commonly supplied by HSE for this purpose.

Depending on how access to the confined space is made, there could be different types of equipment deployed to assist in recovering a casualty.

Davit arms and winches are commonly found being used for confined space access where some level of side-to-side movement may also be required. Depending on the type of access needed, davit arms can be either fixed or temporary. HSE uses XTirpa davit arms in our HSE Sydney training centre for confined space access, paired with both SpanSet type 1 self-retracting lifelines and type 3 winches.

Tripods can also be used to provide access to confined spaces. Typically, these are used in situations ingress is made through a manhole or access hole. The type of tripod needed is determined based on a couple of different factors. The biggest one being weight.

The tripod needs to be able to be moved and setup by those on-site. In situations where only one person is available to do this, a lighter option is required.

Prior planning prevents poor…outcomes

The best emergency plan is the one that does not need to be implemented. But no matter how much consideration and thought goes into creating safe places of work, safe methods of work and using safe work practices accidents can and do still occur.

Ensuring that emergency plans are created as well as practiced, and that teams are trained in performing rescues can dramatically improve the chances that an accident is more an inconvenience than something much, much worse.

To discuss your safety needs with a dedicated team of professionals, call HSE on 1300 884 978 or email Height Safety Engineers are your partners in protecting people.

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