One of the hazards faced by construction workers is a crush injury.

When a piece of heavy machinery or equipment, like a forklift, rolls over on a hapless construction worker, it’s very possible that the worker’s limbs or torso can be crushed underneath all that way. Sometimes there’s no obvious external damage except for redness and bruising — which can cause people to delay treatment and lead to complications.

The most serious consequence of crushing isn’t broken bones — it’s actually something called crush injury syndrome.

When a large part of the body is compressed, toxins inside the crushed body part can quickly build up into a lethal quantity. When the weight bearing down on that body part is finally lifted away during a rescue, the toxins can overwhelm the victim’s kidneys, throwing him or her into toxic shock. In many cases, the toxicity is lethal.

To prevent this from happening, use the following guide:

  1. Look at the time immediately after the victim is pinned beneath whatever heavy item has fallen or toppled over.
  2. Call 911 and ask for emergency services to get there immediately. Let them know they will be treating the victim who has been crushed.
  3. If you can remove the item within 15 minutes of the accident, remove the weight and release the victim.
  4. If you can’t remove the weight within 15 minutes, don’t attempt it without medical guidance. That’s all the longer it takes for toxins to build up.
  5. If you’re working on a remote project somewhere and medical help can’t get there in time to save the victim, ask for guidance. More than likely, you’ll be told to put a tourniquet directly above the injured body part before removing the weight to restrict toxic blood flow once the weight is gone.

Naturally, this guide is no replacement for actual medical advice. It’s always important to remember that workplace accidents like crush injuries are serious. Complications are frequent. Whenever possible, get in touch with a medical professional before you act.

Source: First Aid Training Co-operative, “Dealing with crushing injuries,” accessed March 09, 2018