A self-retracting lifeline is an extendable connecting device equipped with an automatic locking function and an automatic tensioning and retraction mechanism. When a self-retracting lifeline is used, the force resulting from a fall is either reduced by the fall absorber mechanism built into the device itself or through that built into the lanyard connector. Self-retracting lifelines are manufactured according to the requirements set down in EN 360 and tested according to EN 364.
A self-retracting lifeline usually consists of a drum inside which the connector cable or strap is rolled up. The connector itself is either a cable, a strap or a rope made of synthetic fibre. In the case of a fall, the connector must not become detached from the self-retracting lifeline when fully extended which means that it needs to be appropriately and firmly fixed in place.
Any connector used with a self-retracting lifeline must be equipped with a rotating bracket. This ensures that it does not get twisted around even if the user is rotating - and prevents the connector from blocking inside the self-retracting lifeline drum.
You also have the option of equipping the connector connected to your self-retracting lifeline device with a fall indicator. This is then triggered when the maximum level of force that is to be expected under normal working conditions is exceeded. This allows the user to quickly determine whether his/her self-retracting lifeline has already been subjected to the force of a fall. If the fall indicator of your self-retracting lifeline has already been triggered, you must refrain from using this device any longer.
Once it has blocked, your self-retracting lifeline must remain blocked until the load is taken off it. This prevents you from falling any further. In the event of a fall using a self-retracting lifeline, the force exerted on the wearer’s body must not exceed 6 kN. The fall arrest distance must also not exceed 2 m. Self-retracting lifelines equipped with a strap or rope made of synthetic fibre must be able to withstand a static load of 15 kN. Self-retracting lifelines equipped with a cable must be able to withstand a static load of 12 kN.
Self-retracting lifelines must not be used over materials into which it is possible to sink as the blocking ability of the device would be impeded - stopping it from preventing the wearer from sinking below the surface.
If there is a risk of the connector rubbing over a sharp edge, it must be tested accordingly and approved for this type of usage. Further information on this topic can be found in the user manual of the respective self-retracting lifeline. In addition, any connector used this way must be equipped with a lanyard energy absorber.