Self-retracting lifelines at the leading edge

August 29, 2018

The evolution of fall protection equipment

In the past, workers at heights relied on energy-absorbing lanyards attached to anchor points to help protect themselves from falling. As equipment evolved, self-retracting lifelines (SRLs) were added to the fall protection package. SRLs have distinct advantages over lanyards, but are more expensive. 

With time, they have become shorter for personal use. Compared to their predecessors, these newer personal SRLs are shorter and lighter, and some are designed to be attached directly to a user’s harness.

This of course raises the question of why you would need a lanyard if these shorter SRLs can be attached to a harness, and the answer is that you don’t. These shorter SRLs, which range from 1.83 to 4.57 m (6 to 15 ft) long, are lightweight, compact, and most importantly, arrest a fall just like their larger counterparts. Some are equipped with web lifelines or wire rope. Many lead multiple lives when it comes to application and deployment in the field.


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