Self-Retracting Lifelines & Personal Fall Limiters
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SRL Fall Protection
Self-retracting lifelines and personal fall limiters are a smart addition to any fall protection system where worker mobility is important. They provide a unique combination of safety and flexibility that other fall protection connectors like shock-absorbing lanyards can't match.
What is a Self-Retracting Lifeline?
Also known as SRLs or yo-yos, these devices consist of two main components: a self-retracting housing unit and a lanyard / lifeline. Due to the retraction capabilities, the lifeline will maintain tension as the worker moves, extending as they move farther from the anchorage and retracting as they get closer. Along with reducing trip hazards, this also improves user safety. If a fall occurs, a built-in breaking system in the housing unit will quickly arrest the user's movement. This reduces the fall's impact and holds the user in place until they can be safely rescued.
Fall limiters are a more compact version of SRLs with a shorter lifeline.
Fall Protection Yo-Yo ANSI Compliance
To classify self-retracting lifelines, we look at a combination of Class and Type, a standards system set by ANSI.
There are two classes of self-retracting lifelines, helpfully named Class 1 and Class 2. The one you'll need depends on your worksite setup.
- Class 1 devices are suitable for anchorage connections that are at or above the dorsal D-ring.
- Class 2 SRLs are suitable for anchorage connections at, above, or up to 5 feet below the dorsal D-ring. They are also all leading edge-rated.
Types include SRL, SRL-P, and SRL-R.
- SRLs are standard SRLs.
- SRL-Ps represent items that are installed on a user's full-body body harness.
- SRL-Rs are devices with emergency rescue and retrieval features.
What is a Leading Edge Self-Retracting Lifeline?
To answer that question, we must first clarify what constitutes a leading edge. According to OSHA, a leading edge (LE) is "a walking/working surface (horizontal and vertical surface) with an unprotected side or edge which is 6 feet...or more above a lower level."
LE applications leave workers (and therefore their lifeline) at risk of coming into contact with that unprotected side or edge in a fall, potentially resulting in SRL damage. Class 2 self-retracting lifelines are designed to withstand this hazard. They use thick cable or webbing materials for their lifelines for superior durability.
Choosing a Self-Retracting Lanyard
When choosing the right self-retracting lifeline for your crew, there are a number of factors to consider.
First and foremost is application. The location of your anchorage and whether or not you need a leading edge-rated device can significantly impact your choices. You cannot use a Class 1 device for below-D-ring anchorage or LE worksites.
After you've narrowed down your Class and Type, you'll want to look at the SRL's features and capabilities. This includes but is not limited to lifeline material, end fittings, length, and more.
You'll also want to confirm the weight capacity. Making sure your SRL can handle the weight of your worker plus all of their equipment is essential for their safety.
The standard choices for self-retracting lifeline material are steel cable and webbing.
Galvanized steel cables are more durable - you can use them in extreme conditions longer. They are corrosion-resistant and much less likely to be damaged when they come into contact with other materials. They are, however, heavier, which puts additional strain on the user.
Web cables are lighter and are the perfect choice for non-corrosive environments. They offer good durability in these less-demanding environments and, if they come into contact with sensitive material, they won't damage it like steel might.
Another option that's not cable or webbing is EdgeCore™ material. Made from Kevlar® cables and a UV-resistant composite jacket for strength and durability, this material weighs about 40% less than comparable 3/16" galvanized cable while offering a break strength of more than three times that same cable.
Yo-Yo Lifeline Connectors
End fittings include snap hooks, rebar hooks, and carabiners. Available in both steel and aluminum, the right end fitting for you depends on what you are connecting to. Most of these connectors include an impact indicator to alert when the device has been used in a fall for added safety.
- Snap hooks are the most common - some even swivel for extra versatility and to prevent tangling.
- Rebar hooks are, as the name implies, generally used to connect to exposed rebar.
- Carabiners are used in the same applications as snap hooks but, due to their size, you can attach other connectors to the anchor point as well.
If you have any questions about which self-retracting lifeline would work best for you, give our product experts a call!