Understanding How a Self-Retracting Lifeline Should Be Incorporated into Your Fall Protection Plan

Any industrial workplace requires the right safety strategies, and that means developing a fall protection plan for workers who might be suspended from or working on a height. A good fall protection plan relies on a number of important considerations, tools and equipment, and techniques.

These range from understanding the importance of a fall arrest system to choosing the appropriate anchors for each use situation to providing body support in the form of anti-fall harnesses and more. It also means using the right retractors, such as a self-retracting lifeline. What are these lifelines and what roles do they play in your fall protection planning?

Where Does a Self-Retracting Lifeline Connect?

Technically, self-retracting lifelines fall under the heading of “connectors”, similar to lanyards and other safety gear. This means they have two points of connection. At one point, they connect to the user’s safety harness. At the other point, they connect to the anchor of the fall prevention system.

What Do Self-Retracting Lifelines Do?

Really, the name says it all here. A self-retracting lifeline will automatically retract itself under specific conditions. It works a lot like the seatbelt in your car does. When acceleration reaches a certain point, the line automatically stops unreeling and locks, and then begins to retract. Under normal use, the line unreels freely, with no resistance. However, if a fall trigger’s the system, the line will lock and then retract itself, helping to pull the in-danger worker back to safety. Note that because they have moving parts, these lifelines require regular lubrication to ensure proper operation.

Should a Self-Retracting Lifeline Feature in Your Fall Prevention Plan?

All fall prevention plans require connectors between the harness and the anchor point. However, you may not need a self-retracting lifeline. A standard lanyard may be more than sufficient. It really comes down to the environment in which your workers are using the fall prevention system. Are they working on significant heights where a high-speed fall is possible? Do they need the extra protection offered by a self-retracting lifeline, or would they benefit more from a static lanyard?

Ultimately, your fall protection equipment needs will vary from other companies, and your choices should be based on industry-best practices, worker needs, work environment, specific hazards and other items that have a direct impact on your business and the safety of your employees.

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