Yes you can die. This is due to orthostatic incompentence. What happens in orthostatic incompetence is that the legs are immobile with a person in an upright posture. Gravity pulls blood into the lower legs, which have a very large storage capacity. Enough blood eventually accumulates so that return blood flow to the right chamber of the heart is reduced. The heart can only pump the blood available, so the heart's output begins to fall. The heart speeds up to maintain sufficient blood flow to the brain, but if the blood supply to the heart is restricted enough, beating faster is ineffective, and the body abruptly slows the heart. In most instances this solves the problem by causing the perosn to faint, which typically results in slumping to the ground where the legs, the heart, and the brain are on the same level. Blood is now returned to the heart and the worker typically recovers quickly. In a harness, however, the worker can't fall into a horizontal posture, so the reduced heart rate causes the brain's blood supply to fall below the critical level. Orthostatic incompetence doesn't occur to us very often because it requires that the legs remain relaxed, straight, and below heart level. If the leg muscles are contracting in order to maintain balance and support the body, the muscles press against the leg veins. This compression, together with well-placed one-way valves, helps pump blood back to the heart. If the upper-legs are horizontal, as when we sit quietly, the vertical pumping distance is greatly reduced, so there are no problems. In suspension trauma, several unfortunate things occur that aggravate the problem. First, the person is suspended in an upright posture with legs dangling. Second, the safety harness straps exert pressure on leg veins, compressing them and reducing blood flow back to the heart. Third, the harness keeps the person in an upright position, regardless of loss of consciousness, which is what kills workers.
Steps to take if you do fall out of a stand.....
- Person should be trained to try to move their legs in the harness and try to push against any footholds.
- Person hanging in a harness should be trained to try to get their legs as high as possible and their heads as close to horizontal as possible (this is nearly impossible with many commercial harnesses in use today).
- It the person is suspended upright, emergency measures must be taken to remove the perosn from suspension or move the fallen worker into a horizontal posture, or at least to a sitting position.
Hope you found this helpful!!