Why is Everyone Turning to Retractable Fall Protection?
Posted by Zoe Geoffrion , on Aug, 2015
Safety equipment. Those two simple words can bring to mind images of bright yellow HAZMAT suits, large plastic eye protection, or steel toe boots. But for many workers safety equipment is entirely in place to prevent injuries or fatalities from falls. Working at heights above 6 feet is the OSHA minimum height guideline where fall arrest systems should be in place. Anything below that will ruin your week with a sprained ankle or bruised buttocks, but anything above that can potentially end your life. To some workers, safety equipment can be seen as a burden they don’t want to deal with. “It won’t happen to me!” they claim. But the truth is, hundreds of people do lose their lives every year in falls from buildings, bridges, towers, oil platforms, scaffolding and more.
What is a Lifeline?
The name is quite fitting, since the lifeline is exactly that. It is a piece of rope, cable or webbing which prevents you from falling off something and potentially losing your life. A large number of companies and independent workers are getting rid of their safety lanyards and turning towards the retractable fall protection. But why?
Lanyards often times include shock absorption technology which can add a few feet to your fall distance. If you have selected a lanyard that is too long, the extra length from the shock absorption may cause you to end up hitting the ground anyhow.
Lanyards normally hang loosely in the work area. Most are 6 feet in length and if working close to your anchor point the extra line will be in your way. In addition, it can tangle in your feet while you are walking which may result in a trip or fall.
Retractable fall protection is all self-contained in a reel system. It extends slowly as needed, and retracts when you move closer to the anchor point. This prevents any excess lifeline around your feet or work space.
Retractable fall protection works in a way similar to a seat belt in a car. When force is applied quickly, such as during a fall, the reel will lock up preventing any additional cable from being dispensed. This instantly stops falls and can even allow quicker rescue because you will be hanging close to your anchor point.
Regardless of which lifeline you may choose, always be sure to attach it to a secure anchor point and make note of the distance to the ground. Keep in mind that webbing stretch or shock absorption technology adds a few extra feet of fall distance.