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Attaching a Self-Retracting Lifeline to a Lanyard

October 17, 2014 Confined Space, Fall Protection, General Safety
connector, Lanyard, Self Retracting Lifeline, SRL

Can I Attach a Self-Retracting Lifeline to a Lanyard?
No! This question lands on our virtual doorstep more frequently than we’d like. It’s easy to understand why people ask: you have a Self-Retracting Lifeline (SRL) and it almost reaches the user or you just need a little more room to stretch to the side, so you want to use a connector – and what do you have plenty of? Lanyards!

It’s an easy solution to talk yourself into. But when you consider the components that make both devices work – lanyard length, speed-sensing brakes and snap-lock hooks – there are too many things that can go wrong. So, no, you cannot attach an SRL to a lanyard.

Why Can’t I Attach my SRL to a Lanyard?
There are several reasons why attaching a lanyard in between the snap-hook of an SRL and the user is a bad idea (and why it’s not approved by OSHA):

  1. Connection incompatibility (snap-hook to snap-hook, or snap-hook to the line itself) means that the attachment of lanyard will not be secure. Rollout, or unintentional disconnect, is a real risk especially with the snap-hook to snap-hook connections.
  2. Adding an extra length to the SRL or the lanyard can throw fall-force brakes out of whack. If the extra length of lanyard is slack, this distance is going to extend before the fall is detected by the SRL, which means the fall will be longer than is safe with the SRL. The extra length of the fall will also increase (obviously) the fall forces. At best this could seriously damage your SRL: at worst it could cause it to fail entirely.
  3. In addition to the extra fall force, there is also the increased fall distance, and a possible lack of clearance. A positioning lanyard will have extra slack in the line, but a shock-absorbing lanyard will also stretch. Coupled with the SRL’s fall distance before it stops, the chances of the user making contact with something below are increased dramatically.

So, What Can You Do?
If you are going to do it, please consider the dangers first before implementing this technique on-site. You can avoid some of these pitfalls with a specialized extension device (with a D-ring on one end for connection to a snap-hook). But even if you plan for the extra length, there is no getting around the possibility of slack in the line and increased fall forces. If you ask us, and many of you have, adding a lanyard to your SRL is not a good idea!