Can A Self-Retracting Lifeline Be Extended?
In my experience, it is not uncommon to hear of self-retracting lifelines and/or lanyards daisy-chained together to create a longer connection to an anchor point. This typically happens when someone buys a product that is long enough for an application on one job, but finds that they need something longer on the next. Instead of purchasing a longer lifeline or lanyard, they turn to the products they have on hand to get the job done. Unfortunately, this may expose the person more hazards instead of protecting them.
This question came across my desk:
Question: Can a self-retracting lifeline (SRL) be extended with a standard lanyard?
Answer: No, a standard lanyard cannot be used. OSHA tells us under 1926.502(d)(6) that snaphooks cannot be engaged to each other. There have been cases where snaphooks connected to each other have been known to compromise the gates locking mechanism.
Solution: SRLs come standard with snaphooks on the end, as do typical lanyards. To connect a lanyard to an SRL or another lanyard, the piece used for the extension needs to have a ring on one end instead of a snaphook. This unit looks like this:
In this case, you would connect the snaphook on the SRL to the ring on the extension lanyard. Then you would connect the snaphook on the extension lanyard to the ring on the back of your harness.
My Advice for Your Safety:
Whenever stepping outside the norm, it is vital to make sure the equipment is made for what you are trying to accomplish. If it is not made for it, realize that you will be absorbing the liability of the situation. You can always call the manufacturer/distributor of the equipment you are using to find out if a device can be used in the manner that you need.
If a manufacturer does not stand behind a particular use of a safety product, realize that it usually has to do with a very real danger that you will not want to expose yourself to. Our advice, always use the right tool for the job. If you have to make a small adjustment to the length of an SRL, use a small extension lanyard. Otherwise, spend the money to make sure your SRL is long enough for the application.