A lifeline is a length of synthetic fibre or steel wire rope attached to an independent point of anchorage. A lifeline is typically used in conjunction with a fall arrest device such as a rope grab.

Using the right vertical lifeline

The rope used as a vertical lifeline in a personal fall arrest system requires a minimum breaking strength of 26.7 kN (6,000 lb.).

The reason for a breaking strength greater than that of the anchor is to allow for the eye splices and knots tied in the rope at the anchor end. Splices and knots will weaken a rope, so additional capacity of the lifeline is required.

The following are good industry practices for the safe use of a vertical lifeline:

  • No knots or splices in the lifeline except at the termination points.
  • Attach each lifeline to an independent point of anchorage.
  • Only one worker connected to a vertical lifeline.
  • The lifeline should extend to within 1.2 m (4 ft.) of the ground or a safe lower landing.
  • If the suspended length of a lifeline exceeds 91 m (300 ft.), then lanyard length, rope construction, rope strength, and the effects of wind must be taken into account.

Inspecting a vertical lifeline

Exposure to sunlight causes most synthetic fibre ropes to deteriorate over time.

Before each use, carefully inspect your lifeline to make sure it is in good condition.

You should look for:

  • Signs of chafing or abrasion
  • Cuts in the yarns or strands
  • Any visible deformities that would weaken the rope or interfere with the free movement of the rope grab

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