Published by RitzSafety on
May 23, 2022 11:58:00 AM
Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry. Workers who are six feet or more above lower levels are at risk for serious injury or death if they should fall. To protect these workers, employers must provide fall protection and the right equipment for the job. Two of the most important being lanyards and self-retracting lifelines (SRL). To find an answer, one must understand what each of these products do.
A lanyard is a device that connects a body harness to an anchor or to a horizontal or vertical lifeline. Lanyards are typically made from 3-foot to 6-foot lengths of synthetic webbing or rope (sometimes wire rope) with attached connectors such as snap hooks, carabiners, or other devices. Lanyards may have built-in shock absorbers to reduce the impact of the fall. These tend to be less expensive than SRLs, so for smaller jobs or for the budget-conscious manager, they may be a better choice. That being said, lanyards are not always the best option due to a concept called total fall clearance distance. Lanyards are not always the best option due to a concept called total fall clearance distance. Fall clearance is the distance required to prevent workers from hitting the ground or lower level, in case of a fall.
Self retracting lifelines reduce the free-fall distance while enabling greater horizontal and vertical mobility. SRLs are a bit like retractable seat belts in your car. Once SRL is attached to a suitable anchorage point and then to a full-body harness, the device allows a worker to move and work as long as they don't move too quickly. If they move too quickly, the line stops and the worker's movement or fall is ceased. If they slip or fall from an edge, the SRL registers that increased speed of movement (over 4.5 ft. per second) and applies the brakes within 24 inches. That's about 16-1/2 ft. less than with a shock-absorbing lanyard. The SRL makes self-rescue a whole lot easier.
So what is the right choice? Neither product is always the right connecting device. The choice of which lanyard to use is based on the type of work that is being done and the workplace environment. It's crucial to consider fall distance when deciding which type of connecting device is safest for the task. For applications where the fall clearance distance remains at a constant safe level (e.g., factory applications) use of a lanyard makes more sense and saves money in the process. For the fall clearance distance can change hourly, an SRL will be a better fit. For these reasons, it's advised to know the work environment and purchase with all of this in mind.