Requirements for Using Horizontal Lifeline Tools

Requirements for Using Horizontal Lifeline Tools

Posted by Howie Scarboro - CEO Fall Protection Distributors, LLC on Mar 23rd 2021

A horizontal lifeline can help your workers move safely on scaffolds and bridges during maintenance, inspection, and construction by preventing falls. However, one must undergo extensive preparation before using horizontal lifeline tools.

Importance of Horizontal Lifeline Tools

Whether temporary or permanent, horizontal lifeline tools include shock-absorbing lanyards, a full-body harness, and self-retracting lifelines for complete fall protection. The equipment must comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements, limiting the arresting force to 1,800 pounds.

These tools prevent falls while allowing the user to travel safely on the site while working. They leave the hands free while securing the torso to keep the wearer protected.

Fundamentals of Horizontal Lifeline Systems

Make sure to enlist a qualified person to assess the fall hazard. Depending on the location and state of the bridge, you may require different types of fall protection.

Furthermore, set up the construction site for the worst-case scenario. In case someone falls, you will need sufficient clearance to avoid hitting structures. Also, leave enough room for their rescue. Please provide both assisted and unassisted rescue measures, and ensure that someone can provide first aid within 3-4 minutes of the accident.

Choose equipment that provides mobility and comfort for long hours of work in the given climate. Check that the full-body harness fits the user snugly without constricting movement. If the gear is too loose, the worker may fall out of it during a head-first fall. Also, slack leg straps could damage the employee’s genitalia in a fall.

Try to have every worker and supervisor trained to use these safety products. Ensure they know how to make adjustments. Also, employees should be able to stop work quickly if they discover a horizontal lifeline hazard.

Travel Restraint Systems

Travel restraint systems prevent the user from reaching a location where they could fall. A horizontal lifeline should prevent the worker from falling off the edge with a rig while being attached to secure anchors. It should have the capability of supporting twice the maximum load that it could experience, or around 800 pounds.

Fall Arresting Systems

Fall arresting systems protect the worker during a fall to avoid serious injury. Ideally, try to choose one designed and certified by an engineer. The engineer should supply you with signed instructions and drawings for using the horizontal lifeline tools.

The paperwork includes a layout of how the system works, system specifications, allowable free fall distance, cable size, termination details, yield strength, initial deformation, tension, and obstruction clearance. It should also say how many workers can use each lifeline.

You can also opt for a manufactured system if its specifications match your needs. It should comply with OSHA standards for flexible horizontal lifeline systems. You may also want written certification from the manufacturer guaranteeing correct lifeline installation according to the design documents.

If you choose an uncertified horizontal lifeline system, it must meet the below requirements:

  • It has a full-body harness
  • Can absorb an impact force
  • Has enough clearance beneath to avoid contact with the ground or structures
  • It has a high-strength rope
  • Maximize the load capacity of the shackles and turnbuckles
  • Remove splices from the horizontal lifeline
  • Choose a proper length for the number of employees using it at once
  • Limit the fall distance
  • The position does not impede worker safety

You may wish to choose one with a built-in shock absorber as it provides a catenary that takes the arresting forces applied by the fall. Catenary means the line appears limp. This sag reduces the applied forces to the lifeline and connection points.

Even if you need to make your own, try to get some third-party testing to ensure no safety issues exist within your horizontal system. A qualified person must supervise the design, installation, and use according to OSHA.

Drawbacks to Horizontal Lifeline Systems

The horizontal lifeline’s sag reduces the applied force on the lifeline and its connection points. It is essential for the system’s operation, but it does introduce two drawbacks.

The sag impacts the worker’s location after falling. A worker who slips on a horizontal lifeline may migrate to the center point because of the slack. This factor means you will need to provide more clearance for the fall, and you must have rescue access along the lifeline's total span.

Sag also increases fall distance. The natural sag increases with length, and applied loads make it larger. More extended horizontal lifelines generally correspond to a farther fall due to their high natural sag, meaning you will need to add more fall distance.

You can calculate the minimum clearance by adding the initial sag, the total fall distance, the worker’s height, and a safety factor of 39 inches. The minimum allowance lies between the highest obstacle that a worker can strike and the anchorage point.

Horizontal lifeline systems typically allow for a maximum of three users at a time so that more significant operations require more units.

Horizontal Lifeline Tools at Fall Protection Distributors

We sell fall protection equipment so that your operation may run smoothly. Here at Fall Protection Distributors, we keep the customer’s best interest in mind.

You will find that our products are affordably priced and allow for a quick installation. While we are the master distributors of Standing Seam Roof Anchor products, we also sell several other brands, including FallTech, Malta Dynamics, Super Anchor Guardian, 3M, and RidgePro.

We distribute harnesses, ropes, shock and energy absorbers, lanyards, steel cables, turnbuckles, carabiners, rope clips, anchors, and anything else you could need for a horizontal lifeline. You can find these products in sets or on their own, and we offer various lengths and weight capacities.

We extensively tested the Standing Seam Roof Anchor products, and they are the only items that are ANSI and OSHA 5,000-pound certified that act as standalone fall protection anchors. Our test reports are readily available on our website.

Feel free to contact us today for any questions about the importance of horizontal lifeline tools, how to use our equipment, pricing, or anything else.

Howie Scarboro, C.E.O. and co-founder of Fall Protection Distributors, L.L.C., recognized the need for continued improvements in roofing safety during the 2010 MetalCon show in Las Vegas. He joined forces with SnoBlox-Snojax, a leader in snow retention and seam clamping technology for metal roofs, to create the SSRA1 prototype. Tested by Gravitec for OSHA/ANSI certifications, the SSRA1 proved to be the industry's lightest, most robust, and most universal-fit anchor point for standing seam roofs. Fall Protection Distributors, L.L.C. was born in 2015, shaping the future of fall protection and instilling confidence in the industry.