The term “vertical lifeline” describes a fall arrest device for an access route and is used for climbing up and down. Typical fields of application include roof access points, masts, chimneys, facades and wind energy turbines.
In most cases, a permanently-installed vertical ladder is usually used to climb upwards. Vertical ladders either have two side rails (similar to common household ladders) or a central shaft which bears the load of the rungs attached to the right and left of this shaft. Both ladder models need to be suitably secured to prevent individuals from falling.
One typical way of securing a vertical ladder is to use a so-called continuous safety cage. This cage-like structure is firmly attached to the vertical ladder. However, this restricts the user’s freedom of movement. According to ASR A1.8, a safety cage must start at a height of between 2.2 m and 3 m. The use of a safety cage on a single-section vertical ladder is only permitted up to a height of 10 m.
Using personal fall protection equipment (PPE), however, offers a much greater degree of protection. In such cases, an arresting system is used. Users can attach their safety harnesses to the anchorage device running down the middle so that this blocks their fall, if they take a wrong step. This prevents fatalities, resp. considerably reduces the effects of a fall. A very short connector also limits a free fall.
A guided type fall arrester with a rigid anchor line in accordance with EN 353-1 is a common type of vertical lifeline. This type of arresting device offers the user an anchorage eyelet which glides along a permanently-installed rail, or a steel cable installed along the middle of the ladder, as the user moves along. In the case of a fall, the device blocks instantly, thus minimising the fall distance so that the user - in a best-case scenario - can climb back onto the ladder. If a lanyard energy absorber is also used, this reduces the ensuing force.
As an alternative to a vertical lifeline system with a rigid anchor line, a guided type fall arrester with a flexible anchor line according to DIN EN 353-2 can also be used to secure a vertical ladder. This solution, however, is not so common and, contrary to permanently-installed safety systems, should only be used as a temporary safety measure. Accordingly, such PPE components are generally not to be found in a permanent vertical ladder system but are instead often included in a user’s individual kit. Whenever possible, vertical lifelines with a rigid anchor line are to be given preference.