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What is a Self-Retracting Lifeline?

Posted by PK Safety Team on Dec 30th 2019

 What is a Self-Retracting Lifeline?

Fall protection is crucial for any job where you’re working at heights. Fall protection equipment has made significant improvements over the years, which means safer workplaces. Among those advances are improvements in self-retracting lifelines, which have helped workers in a variety of industries stay safe.

What is a Self-Retracting Lifeline?

Fall arresters, retracting lanyards, fall arrest blocks—self-retracting lifelines (SRLs) go by many names, but all describe safety equipment that consists of a lifeline that retracts automatically. Think of an SRL as a seatbelt: like a seatbelt, an SRL moves freely until it experiences a sudden jerking movement that pulls it taut and keeps it from moving further. Also like a seatbelt, an SRL absorbs some of the energy in a sudden stop, and along with a full body harness, spreads the force across your entire body to keep you from feeling the brunt of it.

Why Not Use a Lanyard?

The fall protection offered by SRLs is better than that offered by shock absorbing lanyards. If you fall with a lanyard, you’ll fall the length + stretch of the lanyard + the distance from where you were to the back of your harness’ D-ring—for a six-foot lanyard, this can mean you drop up to 18 feet! This fall distance may put you in contact with the ground or other obstacles before coming to a stop.

SRLs don’t allow that kind of speed to build up because they stop right away (usually locking up within 12 inches) and are especially great for situations where you don’t have much fall clearance but still need maneuverability. There is still a certain amount of stretch due to the built-in shock absorption, but it is much reduced.

How Do I Care for My SRL?

Always look at the manufacturer’s specifications for taking care of your SRL. Before you use your equipment, make sure you perform a pre-use check that includes visual inspection for damage on the casing, webbing or wire rope, carabiner, etc. Store your SRL in a cool, dry place to keep it from breaking down. Check on the integrated fall indicators to check for devices that need to be taken out of service and recertified. Consider any leading or sharp edges in your workspace, especially if you’re using your SRL horizontally, and if that is a risk make sure you have sharp edge protection on the cable. If it’s time to replace your SRL system, consider the Rebel 6 ft. Self-Retracting Lifeline Web for lanyards or the French Creek Rogue SRL Dual-Leg for a D-ring and the Miller TurboLite Personal Fall Limiter PFL SRL for snap hook, which can cover two of the most important parts of any fall arrest system.

Personal Protective Equipment from PK Safety

There are a lot of options for fall safety and self-retracting lifelines available, and it might be overwhelming to find the one that works best for your work. If you’re not sure what kind of fall protection you need, a safety expert from PK Safety can answer all of your questions and help you decide. Contact us online or call 800.829.9580.