Self-retracting lanyard/lifelines are popular devices among professionals who work at height. These fall arrest systems can save lives but they can also be dangerous if used improperly. The use of an SRL can seem easy, as it's basic functions are just like a seat belt, but it is important to pay attention to proper use.
Here are some safety precautions to be aware of when using a retractable:
Where is the best place for using an SRL?
Retractable lanyards are designed to arrest free falls within inches. The best place to use a SRL is overhead. A SRL can also attach to overhead anchor points or moveable overhead lifelines like the Tether Track by Gorbel.
When is it OK to use a retractable at your feet?
Use precaution when considering this, the SRL must remain in vertical position and cannot lay on its side or it will effect the fall distance. You will need the shock pack to absorb the additional fall energy and a cable line to resist damage from a leading edge. The retractable should clearly be marked as certified for use on a leading edge.
What is a leading edge, and what features are important in an SRL when working on a leading edge?
Leading edges are dynamic environments. They are the edges of floors, roofs, decks or other walking-working surfaces which move or change location as additional sections are constructed. For example, each time a piece of plywood is placed on floor joists, the relative position of the unprotected edge changes. "Unprotected sides and edges." Each employee on a walking/working surface (horizontal and vertical surface) with an unprotected side or edge which is 6 feet (1.8 m) or more above a lower level shall be protected from falling by the use of guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems.
Be aware of recertification requirements.
Some retractables need recertification and some don't -- consult manufacturer's instructions for details on your SRL. A good practice would be to conduct frequent maintenance of your retractable, this will help to extend product life time, and help ensure product functionality is maximized. Self Retracting Lanyards/Lifelines are designed for rugged use. However, they are mechanical devices that may require service at some point during their use life. All SRLs should be serviced after a fall has occurred. Find out what is required from your retractable manufacturer and plan accordingly.
Are rescue plans are still required when using an SRL?
A rescue plan should always be in place before using fall protection equipment. Always make sure you and your employer have carefully reviewed and signed off on the plan prior to work.
Problems to Watch Out for Using Self Retracting Lanyards
A swing fall can occur using a retractable with an anchorage point that is not positioned directly overhead, a swing fall or pendulum effect will occur. Striking an object while swinging can cause serious injury or death. Since self-retracting lifelines allow for greater horizontal and vertical mobility than standard six foot shock-absorbing lanyards, extra care should be taken to reduce swing falls.
Whether you are using a shock-absorbing lanyard or self-retracting lifeline, it is extremely important to position your anchorage point directly overhead whenever possible to minimize the risk swing falls.
Bad habits and lack of supervision can lead workers into thinking their experience with different types of equipment is adequate. Some workers think that it is OK to mix different equipment components to their systems to achieve a lightweight or low-cost design (Eg. using mountaineering snap hooks and harnesses in an industrial fall arrest system). This type of misuse is dangerous and should be monitored.
Equipment Mixing and Matching
A personal fall protection equipment system should be designed, tested, and supplied as a complete system. Both the employer and employee should understand that equipment components of a system may not be interchangeable. Ask your safety supplier or contact the manufacturer for further questions regarding your fall protection equipment system.
Locking and Breaking Hazards
Roll-out can occur when a non-locking snap hook is unintentionally mated to an attachment point. Accidental disengagement or roll-out can result when the force of a fall arrest rebounds back up through the lanyard/lifeline depressing the gate and allowing the snap hook to pop loose or "roll-out".
"The snaphook or carabineer shall be capable of withstanding a minimum load of 220 pounds without the gate separating from the nose of the snaphook or carabineer body by more than 0.125 inch when tested in accordance with Section 188.8.131.52. The gate of the snaphook or carabineer shall be capable of withstanding a minimum side load of 350 pounds when tested in accordance with Section 184.108.40.206. Failure shall be defined as permanent deformation of the gate more than 0.125 inch, or separation of the gate from the body of the snaphook or carabineer body by more than 0.125 inch."
According to OSHA, construction industry use doesn't require heavy duty gates, although it is a requirement for general industry use.
Precautions to take against roll-out with non-locking snap hooks:
- Never attach two snap hooks together
- Never attach a snap hook back on it's own lanyard (unless it's a certified tie-back lanyard).
- Never attach a snap hook directly to a horizontal lifeline
- Never attach two or more snap hooks to one D-ring
- Never attach a snap hook to a webbing loop or webbing lanyard
For more information on safely using an SRL please feel free to contact us via phone or email. View our selection of Self Retracting Lifelines and Lanyards.
One of the most versatile pieces of fall protection equipment is the double tie off lanyard, also known as the Y-lanyard. This new breed of lanyard has become a popular choice among safety professionals in recent years. The Y-lanyard attaches two lanyard legs to a shock absorber and snap hook, which can allow for workers to move horizontally from one area to another while being continuously attached.
Advantages of using Y-lanyards
- Ability to bypass obstructions while remaining attached
- Avoidance of attaching two separate lanyard snap hooks to a single harness D-ring
- A one-piece device with easy handling
- Has one shock absorber for both legs
- The second leg can be stowed to avoid dragging or hanging when attached
Why Double Tie Off Lanyards are so Important
Recently a high steel rigger fell to his death at the AT&T Center Arena in San Antonio, TX while striking a show at 2:00 AM. Witnesses said he had detached himself from the fall safety line while repositioning himself and lost his footing while moving around a beam. A late load-out can be dangerous as fatigue can play a factor in clarity of thought and situational awareness.
The rigger was identified as Dean Williams, 44, from Houston, Texas. He leaves behind a wife and 3 month old daughter.
Accidents like this can be avoided if you wear a double tie off lanyard.
Y-Lanyard Safety Features:
- Reduced Fall Risk - Lanyards are designed to reduce the impact from a fall. They come in a variety of features. They may be single or double leg, shock absorbing, self retracting, and fall restraint. By adding a second leg to the device, there is a reduced risk of falling.
- Constant Attachment - A worker using this device can be constantly attached to an anchorage point.
- Bypass of Obstructions - Since both legs of the double tie-off Y-lanyard are utilized, a worker can maneuver around obstacles easily without having to detached and risk falling.
Reminders on the Use of the Y Lanyard
- The snap hook at the Y lanyard's stem should always be attached to the harness attachment or D-ring.
- One should not try to extend the lanyard's reach by attaching a leg to the harness and the other end to the anchor. This will just result to greater fall distances that may cause serious injury or even worse, death.
- The leg of the lanyard that is not in use should only be connected to the harness' attachment points, which have only been approved by its manufacture for its intended use. This unused leg should not be parked in the harness D-rings. This can add to the body's load in case of an accidental fall.
- While in use, the y lanyard or any lanyard for that matter should not be passed between legs, around the neck or under the arms.
Serious injuries and death from falls can be minimized if employers will practice strict safety measures in a workplace. Falls can efficiently be prevented by means of double tie off lanyards that come with additional protection.
A man named Joe, who worked for the same roofing company for 25 years, fell through the skylight pictured above to his death. He was not wearing any fall protection and the skylight was not protected in any way. California's Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) put together this short video to honor Joe's life to remind us all that safety is not about statistics, but about real people who do not go home at the end of the day. On average 16 people die at work every day in the United States. That number is too high! This video will inspire you to work safer in any environment, but especially on roofs, working around unprotected skylights.
This Could Have Been Prevented with Skylight Fall Protection
As the video points out there are several types of fall protection available for protecting skylights.
The most popular skyilight fall protection option is the skylight screen. The skylight screen is designed to connect to the outside of the skylight and form a protective barrier when people trip or fall into the skylight. The screen will prevent the worker from falling through the skylight, saving their life and protecting them from a potentially fatal fall.
Another option for protecting a skylight is to use a guardrail system that forms a protective boundary around the skylight screen. Skylight guardrail, like Kee Dome, is designed to be non-penetrating so it will not cause any problems with the roof.
Further options, such as temporary weighted anchor points are available for the contractor who has to access the roof in many locations on a limited basis.
Connect with our solutions team to learn more about skylight fall protection solutions.
OSHA regulations can be tricky. There are regulations that apply to specific industries and others that apply to any type of workplace that meets certain criteria. Since the wording of some regulations is vague or imprecise, there are often interpretations of the regulations and exceptions to know about, too.
So how do you know which OSHA regulations apply to your business? Here are some steps to follow to get to the right place.
- Does your state have its own OSHA program or does federal OSHA have jurisdiction in your state? About half of the states in the U.S. administer their own OSHA programs. Federal OSHA enforces its own regulations in the remaining states. Go to www.osha.gov to see which states enforce their own plans.
- If you are in a ‘state-plan state,’ find the state OSHA’s web site. Nearly all of the state OSHA programs have their regulations online. If you are in a federal OSHA state, stay at www.osha.gov and go to the Regulations page. The online resources available are abundant.
- What is your company's industry? That can make a difference in which regulations apply to you. In California, for example, which is a state plan state, there are different “trigger heights” for fall protection that depend on the industry and even the construction trade.
For Example: California framers on certain construction jobs are not required to use fall protection until they get above 15’; roofers have a 20’ trigger height and ironworkers, with some exceptions, have a 30’ trigger height. However, non-construction worksites have a trigger height of only 7 1/2’. Some exceptions and additional requirements that may apply.
- Before reading the regulations from beginning to end, check your OSHA web site for publications about the safety area you are concerned about (e.g. fall protection, hazardous materials). If one exists it will probably summarize the agency’s regulations in plain English and give references to the actual regulations.
- Joining a local meet up or safety council as well as attending a safety conference such as national shows hosted by ASSE and NSC are great ways to learn, and connect.
- Ask a safety product sales team member, the knowledge they have is an invaluable resource. They spend hours researching products that apply to your industry and will often provide extensive knowledge because they want your business.
Once you have identified the agency that regulates you and found any publications that explain the regulations, it’s time to start looking through the regulations themselves. First check the section and chapter of the regulation before you start reading. If the regulation is specific to an industry it will say so. For example, fall protection requirements located in the construction standards cannot be applied to general industry.
Finally, many regulations have a “scope and application section.” If the scope and application don’t fit your company or situation, move on.
In order for a roof parapet to provide adequate fall protection, a roof parapet should be at least 42" in height. Unfortunately, many buildings get close to this height without quite meeting the height required by OSHA to provide fall protection. There are several solutions to help you raise the height of your parapet that are cost-effective and aesthetically pleasing.
Here are several solutions if you find yourself in a situation where your parapet does not meet the fall protection height requirement.
1. Raise the Parapet Height with a Railing
This is the simplest solution. If you can penetrate your roof parapet, there are several roof parapet railing solutions. We offer railings that attach to the top of the parapet or the outside of the building. Find our more about these types of railings on our roof parapet railing page.
2. Install a Non-Penetrating Full-Height Railing
If penetrating the outside of the wall is not an option, a freestanding, non-penetrating railing can be used to keep people back to from the roof edge. Find out more about KeeGuard, our non-penetrating roof railing.
3. Use Temporary Parapet Railing Clamps to Build a Railing
If you only require temporary access to a roof with a lower parapet, then parapet clamps are a cost-effective option. The clamps are designed to clamp onto the roof parapet. The railing is then formed by inserting 2x4s between the clamps to form a safe, temporary barrier. Click here to find out more about temporary parapet railing brackets.
Whatever the situation you find yourself in, reach out to our trained sales staff. They can recommend products and help you understand the benefits of the different parapet railing solutions that are available.