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Self-Retracting Lifelines for Sharp Leading Edges

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I-Beam-Sharp-EdgesWhat is the best fall arrest option for workers exposed to sharp, unprotected leading edges?   To explore this scenario, imagine a construction worker tied off using a traditional lanyard at foot level and installing steel decking.

If the worker falls, the webbed lanyard will run over a sharp, I-Beam with an edge radius ranging from .005″ to .032”. The I-beam may not appear sharp to the untrained eye, but looks are often deceiving.  If our hypothetical fall victim selects the wrong PPE, our accident scenario can lead to catastrophic results.


Sharp Leading Edge Applications Pose Unique Fall Hazards
The sharp leading edges present in construction applications pose different fall hazards requiring careful attention, including:

Increased Fall Distances:  Workers fall farther when tied off at foot level rather than shoulder height or above (common in the construction industry).

Delays In SRL Lock-Up: Lifelines are designed to lock up when the cable accelerates out of the SRL housing at a certain speed (generally 4.5 feet per second).  When SRL’s are anchored at foot level, the lifeline doesn’t achieve lock-up acceleration speeds until after the worker’s D-ring passes over the leading edge and below anchor level.  In most cases, this means a fall of five feet below the working surface before the SRL’s engages to arrest the fall.

Increased Fall Arrest Forces:  Falling further increases means the impact on the body through the fall protection system will potentially be higher during fall arrest.

Inceased Swing Fall Hazards:  A pendelumn, back and forth motion the worker experiences during and after fall arrest (also known as a swing fall) rubs the lifeline against the sharp edge.  This sawing motion can cause lifelines to sever and fail.

New Standards for Leading Edge Self-Retracting Lifelines
With this information in mind, what is the best way to protect workers from the fall hazards associated with sharp leading edges?  Strategies such as attaching energy absorbers to standard SRL’s, protecting leading edges, and elevating anchor points above foot level reduce risks, but new ANSI, CSA, and CE  standards for self-retracting lifelines are increasing worker safety too.  ANSI analysis has demonstrated that use of fall arrest devices not specifically designed for sharp, leading edge work generates forces that far exceed accepted safety parameters during falls.  ANSI’s Z359.14 standard tests leading edge self-retracting devices (LE-SRD’s) by running the lifeline over a piece of steel bar with a radius of no more than 0.005”.  If the lifeline is cut or severely damaged, the fall arrest device is not ANSI compliant.


Capital Safety’s Nano-Lock Edge SRL Is Ideal For Sharp, Leading Edges Found In Construction

Many of our regular clients know we have a close working relationship with Capital Safety and we recommend use of their fall protection PPE.  Capital Safety has developed a new SRL called the Nano-Lock Edge (shown above) specifically designed for foot level tie off.  The self-retracting lifeline takes guesswork out of the equation because it is engineered to stand up to the sharpest leading edge you’ll find on the job.  To learn more about SRL’s specifically designed for the construction industry, watch the video or access the additional links below:

Additional Resources on Sharp Leading Edge Fall Protection Applications

Construction activities pose a number of common, unique fall hazards including a lack of overhead anchor points. the presence of sharp leading edges, and a constantly changing work environment.  That said, with proper care and planning, you can ensure worker safety and the OSHA compliance of your job-site.  To learn more about fall arrest for construction, contact the safety experts at Diversified Fall Protection for further assistance.

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Did You Know?

It is the responsibility of the employer to provide proper fall protection to all workers who are exposed to fall hazards?