What is a self-retracting lifeline?

1. What is a self-retracting lifeline?

A self-retracting lifeline (SRL) is part of a fall arrest system. It connects the wearer’s safety harness to the anchor and works to arrest vertical falls. The mechanism of the self-retracting lifeline uses an enclosed ratchet type mechanism at the connection to the anchor, playing out the line as needed.

If a fall occurs in a vertical direction, the teeth of the ratchet system engage, forming a brake to slow and stop the fall quickly. In this way, it operates on the same principle as a seatbelt in a car. The design of the lifeline, which is typically web strapping or synthetic cable, absorbs some of the shocks, preventing injury by reducing the fall force on the wearer. The positioning of the connection to the wearer’s harness also assists in distributing the force of the fall over the entire harness.

2. What is a self-retracting lifeline used for?

The use of a self-retracting lifeline can include any location where the anchor point is located above or overhead to the user. It is also ideal when there is shorter potential fall distance, and a shock absorbing lanyard cannot be used due to the fall distance. Keep in mind, the SRL limits the fall by engaging a braking mechanism to prevent further fall, and that mechanism only engages with a high speed, so they are not recommended for sloping roofs or with anchoring on the surface rather than overhead.