Study: My Understanding of

Why Self-Retracting Lifelines Are Important

Self-retracting lifelines are lanyards or ropes that allow users to freely move around within designated areas. Based on how a user moves, lanyards can roll out and retract. Lanyards can stay taut all the time due to the retracting function. When sudden increases in speed are detected for instance during the fall, an automatic speed brake gets activated to stop the fall. Even though self-retracting lifelines are known by several names e.g. retractable fall arresters, fall arrest block, automatic fall arrest devices and retracting lanyards, their functionality are more or less the same.

The concept on how self-retracting lanyards function usually gets pitted against the concept of seat belts. When lightly pulled, seat belts roll out smoothly, only retracting to a snug fit during release. A sudden tug on a seatbelt for instance during emergency stops makes the entire system block, which prevents passengers from getting thrown out of their seats. Retracting lanyards work very much the same compared to seat belts. Arguably, the only difference between the two is that lanyards work to stop falls and mitigate the forces imposed on users during a fall. Below, we dive into some of the benefits of using self-retracting lifelines.

Usually, self-retracting lifelines do not need any extra lines. Particularly in jobsites where multiple workers operate within a single location, standard lanyards are often a workplace hazard. Standard lanyards need extra lines and even when using 6 foot lanyards, there will definitely be complications not only involving workers constantly watching out for other lines, but also limiting their freedom of movement. Self-retracting lifelines have a mechanism that minimises the risk of lines getting tangled around each other or other items.

Proper self-retracting lifelines provide workers with effective systems for rescuing themselves. Self-retracting lifelines should have fall arrest systems that can be equipped with self-rescue pulleys that workers can activate to pull themselves back up. The self-rescue pulley may not always be required however, such a system not only makes users capable of rescuing themselves but also makes rescue work easy for co-workers. When using self-retracting lanyards, there is usually a risk of swinging after a fall. Therefore, it is important that people make the right decisions on matters of lanyard material, from webbing to wire to minimise the risk of swinging.

When using a self-retracting lifeline, less fall distance is required. A self-retracting lifeline is designed to sense sudden changes of motion on the lanyard, consequently activating a braking system when speeds of roughly 4 and half feet per second are detected. It takes less than 2 feet for this to happen, which is obviously less compared to the standard 6 feet of shock absorbing lanyards.

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