Fall Protection

D - Descent and Rescue

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Employers must have a rescue plan that either provides the prompt rescue of employees in the event of a fall or ensures that employees are able to rescue themselves. Executing this plan may require the use of a rescue system designed for the application.

What kind of descent and rescue system do I need?
  • Rescue and Descent Devices

    These devices include ascenders and descenders that help get workers who are experiencing a problem back to a lower level safely, either by themselves or through the assistance of rescue personnel.

  • Confined Space Entry and Retrieval

    When entering a confined space, whether vertical or horizontal, special equipment can be used to aid in rescue and recovery. This is especially important in tight quarters where reaching a worker may be a challenge.

Rescue and Descent

Considerations when choosing rescue and descent systems

In addition to technical considerations, consider the amount of training required to use a piece of safety equipment properly and effectively. In general, automatic type descent devices require much less training than user controlled systems, but also are less adaptable to multiple tasks. Consider whether the device needs to be intuitive and instantly useable by anyone, or if specific personnel need to be trained for rescue tasks for the jobsite.

  • Worker suspended from controlled descent device

    Automatic, user or co-worker controlled descent

    Automatic evacuation and emergency escape devices require the least amount of training and knowledge by the user. Some systems allow the user to control their own descent or allow a co-worker to control the descent for added flexibility. A single rescue system may not fit every scenario, some systems are easy to use for one application, while others require more skill but can be adapted for use in multiple situations.

  • Worker rescuing co-worker at height with controlled ascent device

    User or co-worker controlled ascent

    In addition to descent capabilities, some rescue systems also incorporate the ability to raise the user or victim. This is often needed in scenarios where a worker must be rescued by another worker, typically called "pick-offs." The rescuer descends to the fallen victim, connects to the victim's system and then raises the victim slightly to enable disconnection of the victim's fall arrest system before descending together to the lower level to complete the rescue.

  • Worker suspended at end of long cable from wind turbine

    Maximum height of operation

    Close attention must be given to selecting the system that can accommodate the height of rescue or descent needed. Systems typically have a maximum usable height based on design and performance. Also consider the overall size and weight of your complete system, and the type and style of lifeline.

  • Two rescue workers and injured worker in a litter suspended from rescue device

    Maximum number of users

    Systems can typically accommodate either one or two users simultaneously. This becomes extremely important if the system needs to be used for evacuation, or if it must be used for rescue of an unconscious worker. If rescuing a co-worker in a "pick-off" type application, the system must be able to support both the rescuer and the victim.

  • Rollgliss™ R550

    Offers the choice of controlled descent rescue, evacuation or the versatility of assisted rescue with lifting capabilities.

    Rollgliss™ R350

    Provides efficient hauling, but more importantly, very controlled lowering (a finger and thumb are all that is required to hold a load). This system also allows you to change the hauling ratios on the fly.


    These descent devices will get personnel down safely from high places when quick escape is vital. Either vertical or sloped descent models are available. Ideal for rescuers and rigging.

    Rollgliss™ R250

    This pole rescue kit enables the rescuer to remove a person from danger. Kit is easily transported in backpack type bags and takes only a few minutes to set up.

Confined Space Entry and Retrieval

How to decide what confined space equipment you need

Confined spaces vary in size and shape. Your confined space system must be adjustable and adaptable. Ascertain the maximum and minimum hole size and shape that you need to access, and choose a system that can accommodate.

  • Worker operating horizontal confined space entry device at opening in side of large tank

    Vertical or horizontal entry

    If entering spaces such as a manhole on a street, a vertical system is needed. Some spaces require entry from the side such as a tank, and for these you'll need a side-entry or horizontal type system.

  • Rescue workers operating vertical confined space davit

    Versatility and adaptability

    One-piece tripods are extremely easy to use and set-up for a variety of applications. Multi-piece davit systems may be more complex, but also offer more versatility with various arm sizes, and base options.

  • Workers demonstrating portable confined space retrieval tripod

    Portable or permanent system

    Temporary jobs require lightweight and easy-to-use portable confined space systems. If a hazardous work area is accessed often, such as a vat or tank, a davit system with a permanently mounted base would be best.

  • Close up of mechainical lifeline winch

    Mechanical systems

    Lifeline type and length are a few options to consider. Typical mechanical devices include man-rated winches and 3-way self-retracting lifelines with both fall protection and emergency rescue winch capabilities. In some situations, a back-up system may be required.

  • Workers operating winch on vertical retrieval davit


    Your systems must provide you with the ability to handle a crisis simply, efficiently and immediately. During an emergency, time is of the essence. Choose 3M’s high-quality systems to ensure optimal performance when it is needed the most.

  • Vertical davit installed at railing of suspension bridge


    Your system must be rated for your application, such as fall arrest, rescue, man-riding or material handling. Choose one that maximises strength and minimises weight. Versatility in this area is often a high priority so your system can accommodate different scenarios that may come up anytime.

  • Ladder system installed in vertical confined space access port


    All system components must be made from quality materials strong enough to endure rough handling and exposure to the elements. Powder coated and anodized aluminum construction offers durability and reduces overall weight for added ease-of-use.

  • Davit arm systems

    Preconfigured davit systems are designed for flexibility and can be used for a wide variety of confined space entry/retrieval applications.

    Davit and base components

    Customise your own system with a variety of davit masts, extensions and bases to suit your specific application.

    Tripod systems

    These systems are ideal for standard manhole type confined space entry applications and are extremely easy to set-up, use and relocate.


    This mechanical device is one of the most critical parts of the rescue system. It provides the means to retrieve an incapacitated worker to safety.

    Fall arrest post/davit systems

    Provides protection and mobility for up to three workers on top of transformers or other types of vertical platforms. Has an optional davit for rescue scenarios.

    Side entry systems

    Designed for horizontal entries with vertical positioning or retrieval required inside the space. The system is available in permanent and portable configurations.

    Tank pod systems

    Designed to mount to tank manways with existing hardware for securing hatch covers. It can be fitted with a variety of winches, ladder systems and fall arrest devices.

Learn More About the ABCs of Fall Protection:

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  • anchor point solutions
    A — Anchors
  • safety harness for body support
    B — Body Support
  • lanyards and self-retracting lifelines
    C — Connectors
  • descent & rescue safety equipment
    D — Descent Rescue
  • work at height safety education
    E — Education
  • tool drop solutions
    F — Fall Protection for Tools
  • netting and guardrail fall protection
    Netting and Guardrail Systems
  • engineered fall protection systems
    Engineered Fall Protection Systems

Learn More About the ABCs of Fall Protection:

Tap icons for details

  • A — Anchors

  • B — Body Support

  • C — Connectors

  • D — Descent & Rescue

  • E — Education

  • F — Fall Protection Tools

  • Netting and Guardrail Systems

  • Engineered Fall  Protection Systems

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