Lifeline Systems Importance and Standards

Lifeline systems and the standards that govern their use are of the utmost importance because they save lives!

Falls are one of the leading causes of injury and death in the construction industry. To combat the dangers of falls, OSHA has created standards that must be followed by employers and employees to prevent or arrest falls. The use of lifeline systems is an important part of these standards aimed at reducing and eliminating worker injuries and deaths from falls.

Lifeline Systems

Lifeline systems are defined by OSHA as a “component of a personal fall protection system consisting of a flexible line for connection to an anchorage at one end so as to hang vertically (vertical lifeline), or for connection to anchorages at both ends so as to stretch horizontally (horizontal lifeline), and serves as a means for connecting other components of the system to the anchorage.” In short, lifeline systems connect a worker or multiple workers via a personal body harness to an anchorage point. If a worker falls, the fall is arrested because the lifeline system, as part of the entire personal fall protection system, either stops the fall quickly or works as anchorage along with other components to stop the fall. 

There are many different types of lifeline systems, meaning they can be used in a variety of different scenarios. Horizontal lifeline systems utilize a horizontal line between two anchorage points that workers can attach to, allowing workers to move horizontally with the line. In a vertical lifeline system, the line is attached to one anchor point, allowing workers to move vertically up and down ladders, roofs, and other vertical surfaces.

OSHA Standards

There are many parts of the OSHA standards governing lifeline systems, but key points include:

  • 1910.29(c)(11) – The employer must ensure that each horizontal lifeline is designed, installed, and used under the supervision of a qualified person; and is part of a complete personal fall arrest system that maintains a safety factor of at least two.
  • 1910.140(c)(15) – Lifelines must not be made of natural fiber rope. Polypropylene rope must contain an ultraviolet (UV) light inhibitor.
  • 1910.140(c)(5) – A competent person or qualified person must inspect each knot in a lanyard or vertical lifeline to ensure that it meets the requirements of paragraphs (c)(4) and (5) of this section before any employee uses the lanyard or lifeline
  • 1910.140(c)(4) – Lanyards and vertical lifelines must have a minimum breaking strength of 5,000 pounds (22.2 kN).
  • 1926.104(b) – Lifelines shall be secured above the point of operation to an anchorage or structural member capable of supporting a minimum dead weight of 5,400 pounds.
  • 1926.140(c) – Lifelines used on rock-scaling operations, or in areas where the lifeline may be subjected to cutting or abrasion, shall be a minimum of 7/8 in. wire core manila rope. For all other lifeline applications, a minimum of 3/4 in. manila or equivalent, with a minimum breaking strength of 5,000 lbs., shall be used.

Safe Keeper sells two lifeline systems that meet OSHA standards: the 50 ft. Vertical Life Line Roof Top Safety Bucket, and the 4 Person Temporary Horizontal Rope Anchorage Line. The vertical lifeline includes a harness, lifeline, reusable hinged steel roof anchor, and storage bucket for those working on roofs. The horizontal lifeline offers a solution where traditional anchorage points cannot be used; it can be attached, taken down, and reattached at different job sites for use by up to four workers. Safe Climber also offers two vertical lifeline systems. Both ladder safety systems offer permanent solutions for your fall arrest needs and meet all OSHA and ANSI requirements.

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