Lifelines are an essential component in some fall protection systems. They consist of a length of synthetic fibre or steel wire rope. You attach your lifeline to an independent point of anchorage on the work surface to ensure stability at the job site.
A lifeline can be both horizontal or vertical.
A horizontal lifeline is a synthetic or wire rope rigged between two major anchor points. You can also use a fixed rail in place of a synthetic or wire rope. This way, you are securely connected to a fall protection system, allowing you to work on a surface at heights safely.
You can install horizontal lifelines temporarily or permanently. Installation and use of temporary horizontal lifeline systems must follow guidelines provided by the manufacturer and/or a professional engineer. Permanently installed horizontal lifelines require certification from a professional engineer as both the lifeline and the anchors may be subject to intense force in the event of a fall.
Vertical lifelines usually consist of 16 millimeter (⅝ inch) synthetic rope made out of polypropylene blend and used in conjunction with a fall arrester, such as a rope grab. Only one team member should use a vertical lifeline at a time.
If the suspended length of your lifeline is longer than 91m (300ft), there are greater risks to your fall protection system. With such a long lifeline, you must consider factors like lanyard length, rope construction, rope strength, and weather (particularly wind).
After choosing a horizontal or vertical lifeline, inspect it for any signs of wear and tear. Be sure to limit your lifeline’s contact with sharp or rough surfaces. Once inspected, secure your lifeline at the bottom of the job site to prevent tangling. Then, fence off and limit access to the area underneath the job site to prevent entanglement of co-workers or construction equipment. Also, weigh your lifeline down with counterweights so that it only occupies the space needed to perform your task.
By choosing the right lifeline for the job and keeping it in good condition, you will have the security you need to work at heights safely.