Is a Self Retracting Lifeline the Best Option?

If you are working in a dangerous position and there is a big chance of falling, it makes sense to have some kind of fall prevention protection. Many of these devices utilize a shock absorbing lanyard and some employ a self retracting lifeline. So, which choice is best? Let’s take a closer look.

What Does Self Retraction Mean?

If you are connected to a lifeline, it will either absorb the impact of falling or self retract, taking up the slack on its own. A self retracting device contains a special mechanism which uses the force of inertia to active a brake. A sensing device activates this brake when a specific falling speed has been reached. This speed is usually 4.5 feet per second. The device utilizes a lanyard which is connected to a harness.

How Does a Shock Absorbing Lanyard System Work?

Shock or energy absorbing lanyards are designed to take so much pressure before a natural recoiling effect takes place. This can be done with shock packs, tubular or double leg lanyards. Unlike the self retracting lifeline, the system acts as its own brake. Here is a closer look at the options:

 * Shock packs – a special energy absorber is attached in-line between the connection points. This adds additional energy absorption protection in addition to the lanyard.
 * Tubular – a special core is woven to work like a spring.
 * Double leg- this provides complete tie off safety.

Which is Best?

Let’s examine the benefits of both systems first. Both self retracting and energy absorbing systems are recognized by OSHA as the only two methods which are effective for fall protection. So both may be used, but is one better than the other?

Reasons to Choose Self Retraction Systems

 * Shock absorption speed – for most energy absorbing lanyards, one must fall about three and one half feet for the system to activate. However, with self retraction this distance is lowered to two feet and then the braking system activates, essentially stopping the fall.

 * Time – with self retraction, once the brake activates, stopping is instantaneous.

 * Lower risk of injury from striking the ground than energy absorption systems

Why Choose Shock Absorbing Lanyards?

They are not as efficient as self retracting but an energy absorption device is simpler to work with. For example, if you are attempting to rescue someone, you can cut the time needed to take the proper actions. These systems are good for low risk falls like ladders, lifts and stairwell areas and they are cheaper and lighter to use.

Both energy absorbing and self retracting lifeline systems perform well, but if you need maximum fall protection, you should consider a self retracting system.

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