When working properly, self-retracting lifelines can detect a sudden increase in speed—such as a fall—and a locking mechanism activates and stops the fall, according to the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development.
However, cold and wet environmental conditions can cause the locking mechanism to seize, resulting in the cable continuing to spool out and the lifeline not stopping the fall.
Safety+Health offers the following tips for preventing this hazard.
- Rapidly pull the cable to verify the components of the locking mechanism are working properly. Do this before the self-retracting lifeline is used for any task and then throughout the day.
- Briskly pull out the cable to ensure the locking mechanism inside the housing responds to a sudden tug on the cable; it should lock up as a seat belt does when a car comes to a sudden halt.
- If the self-retracting lifeline gets wet, store it vertically to dry.
It is important workers notify their supervisors immediately and refrain from using a self-retracting lifeline if the locking mechanism is not working.