Suspension Trauma: 3 Must-Know Myths

suspension trauma

Suspension trauma has a few different names—Harness hang, harness-induced pathology and orthostatic intolerance (the medical term). Consequences can be fatal, and it’s important to be aware of symptoms and ways to prevent its onset.

Suspension trauma has its fair share of misconceptions—One of the biggest is that it’s a myth. 

In this article, we discuss three myths that surround suspension trauma you must know. 


It is! Suspension trauma happens when a worker’s movement is vertically suspended, restricted and upright for an extended period of time and lose consciousness.

But why does this happen? Blood pools in the legs and makes them swell, while blood pressure drops. Typically, when orthostatic intolerance sets in the victim faints so blood will re-circulate through the body—A worker in restrictive fall arresting equipment can’t do this. 

It can be minor, too—A common example is people who are still for long periods of time and faint, or feel dizzy when they get up. 

Now, imagine you’ve arrested a fall, don’t have a rescue plan and first responders are still on the way. 5 minutes, 10 minutes, and now 25 minutes pass. You know that suspension trauma can set in after just 30 minutes. Time is ticking. You’re covered in sweat, you feel dizzy and terribly nauseous.

Finally, you’re cut down and pass out, unconscious. You’re in the hospital—There’s paperwork, lost-time and incident investigations to happen. Who knew a little slip could cause so much trouble?

Yes, you’re alive, but next time, you’ll definitely have a rescue plan. And suspension trauma is real.


Suspension trauma is still a reality. Yes, education, training and equipment reduce injuries and fatalities in industrial workplaces, but prevention is still a priority. Look at it this way—Vaccines exist for illness like the measles, but people still contract it when they don’t use preventative measures. 

Individual factors increase a worker’s risk to develop the trauma, and its effects are not easy to predict person-to-person. 

These factors include: 

  • Individual’s ability to manage anxiety/stress
  • Harness selection & fit
  • Poor training
  • Previous injury or illness 

This is why training is vital. It’s important to teach employees not only what happens when you use the wrong PPE, but psychological coping mechanisms to help a worker deal with a potential fall. Proper training will also emphasize the importance to continuously move your legs in specific ways to maintain circulation—It’s important The right safety harness and leg straps will allow the worker to move 


Okay, so when I take the safety harness off I’m fine, right? Wrong.  

Workers in vertical positions must receive medical attention immediately after release. In past suspension trauma cases, victims have died after the harness comes off—This is known as ‘rescue death’.

Some doctors think it’s caused when blood tries to circulate through the body at its normal pace, and can’t. Did you know leg muscles are one of your body’s auxiliary pumps? When legs hang, motionless and upright, it pinches the arteries and blood can’t flow to crucial parts of the body, like the heart and brain. 

  • Leg circulation
  • Heart circulation
  • Brain circulation 

Fortunately, like we mention above, industrial environments benefit with the right personal protective equipment (PPE) and training to prevent suspension trauma. Recorded injuries from suspension trauma are somewhat rare—But training and proper PPE are key to this.

A body harness that doesn’t fit properly, is fit with the wrong accessories or is uncomfortable, does more harm than good. Remember—Suspension trauma does exist, the right safety harness help prevent it and negative effects of suspension trauma can linger after the harness is off. It’s important to train yourself and workers (even those who may not be working at heights) of the risk and procedures to take before, during and after a fall.











Hercules SLR is part of the Hercules Group of Companies. We have a unique portfolio of businesses nationally, with locations coast-to-coast. Hercules Group of Companies provides extensive coverage of products and services that support a variety of sectors across Canada which includes the energy, oil & gas, manufacturing, construction, aerospace, infrastructure, utilities, mining and marine industries. 

Hercules Group of Companies is comprised of: Hercules SLRHercules Machining & Millwright ServicesSpartan Industrial MarineStellar Industrial Sales and Wire Rope Atlantic.

We have the ability to provide any hoisting solution your business or project will need. Call us today for more information. 1-877-461-4876 or email Don’t forget to follow us on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn for more news and upcoming events.

Get to Know your Territory Manager, Marc-Antoine Nolin

training courses at hercules slr

Today, we sat down with Quebec Hercules SLR Territory Manager, Marc-Antoine Nolin. We’re proud to have managers with a wide-array of industry experience and hands-on training. Marc has worked in both the mechanical and financial industries, and works at Hercules SLR as a Territory Manager and Trainer—he spoke with us about his professional experience, training courses he’s completed and his role at Hercules SLR.

Tell us about your educational background?

In 2010, I graduated from automotive mechanics. I worked in this field for a few years, then returned to sales-consulting and representation studies—I then obtained my certificate from the Autorité des Marches Financiers (Authority of Financial Markets). After graduation, I worked as a financial security advisor for some time.

What made you decide to enter this industry?

I missed working in a field where the product is tangible and more technical. So I started looking for a new challenge, and by chance I came across a job offer from Hercules SLR. The safety and lifting field was unknown to me, so I took the opportunity to develop experience in a field that had a lot of opportunity.

Can you tell us about your work experience before joining Hercules SLR?

When I worked in the mechanic field, I developed my technical and logistical skills. I had to supervise the team of mechanics, so I had to communicate well. I also worked on telecommunication lines, where I trained for work at heights.

My years in financial services have helped me develop my communication skill and explain things well.

What made you want to transition into training and management?

I’ve always enjoyed gaining and sharing new knowledge. In my various jobs, I was often the person dedicated to training new employees. I like to talk in front of and interact with a group. When the opportunity to become a trainer presented itself, I immediately took my chance—I knew it was right for me.

Why did you decide to work for Hercules SLR?

I applied at Hercules SLR to take up a new challenge. I’ve been lucky to work at Hercules for four years now. During these four great years, I’ve worked in almost every position in the company. I’ve developed a passion for the field and now I have the opportunity to share the knowledge I’ve gained.

Where have you traveled during your time as a training specialist for Hercules SLR?

I’ve traveled to local training courses in Quebec, and to Halifax to attend the first rigging fundamental training at the Hercules Training Academy.

Is there anywhere that you would like to travel in the future with Hercules SLR?
Hard hat? Check. Suit? Check. Managing is a balancing act!

I love discovering new cities, so no matter where my role as a trainer takes me, it will be a pleasure. I haven’t been to Western Canada for a long time, so I’d like to go back there!

Lastly, is there anything that you hope to accomplish during your career at Hercules SLR?

I’m passionate about my job—the most important thing I want to accomplish through my job as a trainer is to share my knowledge and make sure people can work safely.

At the moment, I give one class—I’d like to eventually acquire the accreditations to give other courses. I’d also like to seek other LEEA certifications and training courses in the future.

Training Courses by Hercules SLR

Hercules SLR offers a wide array of safety training courses. Alongside our standard courses, we’ll tailor-make courses to suit your specific requirements—at our facility or yours. Find out how we’ll help you raise the bar in safety training.

To learn more about our courses, e-mail us at


Hercules SLR is part of the Hercules Group of Companies which offers a unique portfolio of businesses nationally with locations from coast to coast. Our companies provide an extensive coverage of products and services that support the success of a wide range of business sectors across Canada including the energy, oil & gas, manufacturing, construction, aerospace, infrastructure, utilities, oil and gas, mining and marine industries.

Hercules Group of Companies is comprised of: Hercules SLRHercules Machining & Millwright ServicesSpartan Industrial MarineStellar Industrial Sales and Wire Rope Atlantic.

Hercules Training Academy: Securing, Lifting & Rigging


Hercules Training Academy: First Course Complete

The Hercules Training Academy is open for training—last week Hercules was thrilled to have eight employees hailing from across Canada participate in our first ever training program. Employees from CSR, sales and management gathered at Hercules’ new, purpose-built specialized Training Academy in Dartmouth, NS to learn the ins and outs (quite literally)—of securing, lifting and rigging in our first specialized training course.

Training Academy Facilities

What makes Hercules’ Training Academy ‘specialized’? Our equipment, for one. Our new custom crane is built into the warehouse floor and can lift up to 10 tonnes—pieces of concrete were actually torn up in order to fix the crane to the floor. This gives our employees experience working with larger, more realistic loads that one may commonly see on a job site.


In addition to the large crane, we have two smaller, portable cranes—these can be used for activities outdoors or on the warehouse floor, and allow trainee’s to practice securing, lifting and rigging in various settings.

In addition to the rigging equipment available at the Training Academy, there are two new classroom spaces. Trainees spend a time in the classroom learning various details, features and differences between equipment like hoists, buckles and slings. Then, they take their knowledge to a practical setting.

This combination of practical and classroom experience is invaluable for our clients and customers.

“I’ve learned so much on the course that will help my understand my customers’ needs much better. I know what’s a workable solution, and how to interpret the needs of the clients’ project,” says Keyne, a CSR from Hamilton, Ontario.

One activity included Hercules’ employees hoisting and lifting objects up and through holes outdoors, which mimicked the challenges of rigging objects into the top of a larger structure, like a boat. Another required employees to secure, lift and rig irregular shaped objects into a shipping container. This showed our employees some of the challenges workers face onsite—things like balancing a large objects’ centre of gravity, evenly distributing a heavy load and properly securing misshapen objects.

Dwayne Fader, Business Development Manager (and former rigging technician!) at Hercules explained some of the common misconceptions and complications workers face with rigging a heavy load. “There is so much more math involved than you think—I’ve never used it more than when I worked in rigging. You have to make sure things are even, balanced and fit correctly—all more challenging than it seems.”

Commitment to Learning

Hercules truly believes that experience is the best teacher, which is why we developed the Training Academy. When we teach our employees how to work with the products we sell, and get a ‘taste’ of what the job is actually like, they gain a whole new insight towards issues our customers and clients face daily—and are able to offer practical solutions and advice. Simply put—our employees don’t just ‘talk the talk’, but can ‘walk the walk’, too.

TJ, a Sales Manager from  Langley, BC says “The Training Academy session was fantastic. I’ve learned more useful skills than I expected, and it’s been fun! The hands-on activities really helped me understand what I was learning. It made me realize what’s great in theory, and then what you actually need to do to make that theory workable.”

Hercules’ employees gained a lot from their time at the Training Academy, and many are excited to do again.

“If there’s a Rigging 2—I want to be on it! I learned stuff I never knew I needed to know, and it’s been FUN.”  says Quincy, an Inspector from Hamilton, Ontario. “Who ever thought I’d use ‘work’ and ‘fun’ in the same sentence? But I have—and it was!”

Hercules offers practical, hands-on learning programs designed to exceed minimum safety requirements. These courses can be customized to fit the specific needs of your workplace, and can be provide training on-site or at a Hercules facility.

We’ve always been committed to providing specialized training—see the table below to discover our available training courses. 

Current Courses Offered:
Power Operated Work PlatformsChain Saw Safety

Confined Space Entrant & Attendant (CSEA)

Fall Protection

Fundamentals of Rigging with Practical

Forklift Safety (Narrow Aisle or Counterbalance)

Lock Out Tag Out

Red Cross Emergency First AidRed Cross Standard First Aid

Fall Rescue Systems

WHMIS 2015 with GHS

Fundamentals of Overhead Cranes

Fundamentals of Rigging

Offshore Rigger Banksman

Overhead Crane Operator

There really is no substitute for experience. All in all, Hercules’ employees had a similar takeaway. Marc, a Manager from Quebec, explains “This week has been amazing. I learned so much about the industry, and now I can understand the jobs as our clients do. I’ve actually already taken some material home for Rigging 2, and I’ve completed the math exercise! It’s great.”

More questions about training at Hercules? E-mail us at


Hercules SLR is part of the Hercules Group of Companies which offers a unique portfolio of businesses nationally with locations from coast to coast. Our companies provide an extensive coverage of products and services that support the success of a wide range of business sectors across Canada including the energy, oil & gas, manufacturing, construction, aerospace, infrastructure, utilities, oil and gas, mining and marine industries.

Hercules Group of Companies is comprised of: Hercules SLRHercules Machining & Millwright ServicesSpartan Industrial MarineStellar Industrial Sales and Wire Rope Atlantic.