Falling from height kills people. The personal cost to families and friends and loved ones is unmeasurable. The financial cost to businesses can be devastating. As an employer, the importance of providing adequate restraint or fall arrest systems for operatives requires no long introduction. An important staple of fall restraint systems is the Fall Protection Lanyard. Lets learn a bit more about the different types of lanyard and their uses:
In a fall restraint system a lanyard connection is used between the anchor point and the body harness preventing the user from reaching the fall area. If a non-shock absorbing type of lanyard is used the utmost care must be taken that it is not possible for the user to gain access to a fall area. A non-shock absorbing lanyard must never be used to arrest a fall, as the arrest forces will be too high without an energy absorber to lower those forces.
- Fixed Restraint Lanyard
- Shock Absorbing Lanyard
- Shock Absorbing Lanyards
On the front of the safety harness should be a chest strap, some harnesses have a metal buckle, and possibly a D-ring on the front. This is to provide the user with a way of attaching to an anchor, or safe system of work, for example ladder systems.
The important thing to note with this type of attachment is that unless the harness is worn correctly; there is a risk that the D-ring and buckle can strike the user in the neck and under the chin if you are involved in a fall. Some safety harness designs have replaced this D-ring with soft loops as a front connection, as this feature makes the harness safer for the user.
Fixed Restraint Lanyards
This type of lanyard is usually a webbing or rope lanyard which includes a shock absorbing element made from specially woven inner webbing that smoothly tears, decelerating forces over a given length reducing the fall arrest forces to a level which is safe and avoids injury.
- Low cost
- Easily portable
- Limited reach
- Requires frequent repositioning
- Easily damaged-becoming unsafe
Adjustable Restraint Lanyards
This type of lanyard developed by Leading Edge Supplies allows an operative to work in restraint or a work positioning system while providing back up fall arrest – should the user inadvertently misuse the equipment and put them within reach of the fall area.
The adjustable lanyard is available in lengths from 1M – 20M (with fall arrest back up) providing plenty of scope for movement within the work area. The adjustable lanyard is a rope based system; it has a sliding cam fixed permanently on the rope in the correct direction of use. The cam’s profile is designed to automatically bite against the rope immediately the operator releases the trigger setting the position on the rope. This allows the operative to set the length of his lanyard to limit his travel and provide restraint up to the maximum of his work area. It can be easily be adjusted as work and space demands.
In the event of a fall the aluminium cam acts as an energy absorber, arresting the fall within a matter of inches (tested to EN353) and arrest forces under 6kN (typically 3kN). The short fall distance results in a limited fall where the casualty is often conscious and without significant injury, allowing a speedy rescue, which is now recognised as critical to the wellbeing of the casualty.
- Low cost
- Easily portable
- Reduced fall clearance
- Works in restraint and fall arrest
- Usable in both horizontal and vertical positions
- Requires training
- Can be damaged if cut or exposed to or high temperatures.
- Subject to pendulum effect when used without a horizontal life-line.
Fixed length shock absorbing lanyards are available in a variety of materials and choice is dependent upon the working environment and application.
A Nylon and Polyester material with increased chemical resistance
Hard Wearing and contains steel wire for inquired abrasion and heat resistance.
“At Leading Edge we prefer shock-absorbing rope lanyards, as they have better wear and strength characteristics and are less vulnerable to damage if the fall is over a sharp edge”
It’s is not unusual for workers to greatly underestimate the clearance required when using fixed length shock absorbing lanyards. The shock absorbing element extends as it is deployed and decelerates.
As a Guide when using 2M length lanyards the fall distance required (to provide adequate clearance to the fallen operative) is 5.2M when attached above head height, 5.75M when connected at shoulder height and 6.75M when attached at foot level. It is often difficult to judge the exact fall distance (even if it’s known) to be sure there is sufficient clearance should the operative fall.
What To Consider When Choosing A Lanyard
Attention needs to be given to the HSE hierarchy of protective measures given in the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The highest in the provision is work equipment which prevents a fall, e.g. designing out the fall possibility or personal work restraint systems. A lower provision is work equipment which minimises the consequences of a fall, e.g. personal fall protection systems. The type of work being carried out and the environment in which the work is being done has a great bearing on the selection of the connecting lanyard. The presence of oil, grease, acids, dirt, electrical hazards, even moisture need to be taken into account as do abrasion or exposure to UV.
Fall protection and restraint lanyards deteriorate with age and use, regardless of brand or type. The strength of the lanyard can easily be compromised be physical damage such as cuts, abrasion, wear and excessive exposure to dirt, dust, oil, grease, acid, moisture, UV and improper storage. Leading Edge recommend that operatives and employers attend an inspection training course or receive inspection training as part of their working at height training enabling operatives and employers to inspect webbing, rope and wire lanyards including the metal hard-wear for the following:
- Broken stitching
- Unusual patterns
- Chemical damage
- Weld Spatter
Deformed And Damaged Hardware
Workers are being killed and seriously injured by equipment which initially passed the required safety standards. Correct lanyard selection and use is a key component in both fall prevention and fall arrest and it is important to bear in mind that in these systems the connecting lanyard bears the greater forces during a fall. Leading Edge strongly recommends that both management and operatives receive training to assist them in making the correct choices when selecting and using lanyards.
Falls from height are one of the leading causes of death and serious injury in the work place, with a high personal cost to families and the subsequent financial cost to businesses. With more than 50 years of experience in technical height safety training and products manufacture we have determined not only to provide the best fall protection and height safety training possible, but to also continuously develop new ideas, further our technological expertise, understand and implement new techniques and to repeatedly set higher standards of safe working at height.
Work site projects and trades require workers to be trained to achieve a high standard of competence in order to work safely at height. In depth knowledge of the equipment and safety concerns can not only improve an operator’s confidence and efficiency but will also save lives and prevent serious injuries.