How to Safely Use a Retractable Lanyard

One of the leading advancements in fall protection technology, retractable lanyards are becoming increasingly common for tower climbing jobs across the country. While these models are attached to the same area of a worker’s harness, they differ from traditional lanyards in the amount of movement and freedom they provide. Retractable lanyards automatically reel in access line as a worker climbs—limiting the amount of slack in a safety line and shortening the response time during a fall. However, though these devices primarily work on their own, you must still know how to safely use a retractable lanyard to best keep yourself protected.

Inspect the Device Before Use

Like any other piece of cell tower climbing gear, your retractable lanyard needs to be thoroughly inspected before each use to ensure the best possible performance. Otherwise, you’re at risk of having it malfunction when you need it the most. During these inspections, you should be taking note of anything you find wrong with the device and retiring it from service immediately if the hazards are too great. Even if there doesn’t seem to be any damage to the lanyard, you might still need to keep from using it if its designated purpose doesn’t match the job being done.

Check (and Double-Check) the Attachment Point

No matter how effective your lanyard may be, it’s only as safe as the anchorage point you attach it to. You need to inspect the area where the retractable lanyard will be attached to make sure that it’s secure enough to handle your weight. Once again, if anything seems off with this position, don’t use this setup to keep yourself out of harm’s way. In addition to this, you’ll also want to report any problems on a jobsite to your superior so they can make note of them and have them fixed.

Use Compatible Harness and Accessories With It

Since it takes all your equipment working together to keep you protected during a climb, you need to be sure that each piece is compatible with the others. While it’s possible to use devices of varying brands, each specific manufacturer assembles their products in different ways, making certain pieces less effective when mixed with other brands. So before suiting up, make sure you read the manufacturer’s guide on each tool and determine whether they would all work well together.

Have a Rescue Plan in Place

Even having the most secure retractable lanyard possible with you on a climb, there’s still a chance, however small, that you could fall. As such, it’s important to always be prepared for these situations by putting a detailed rescue plan in place before you begin a job. This plan should include everything from assessing the work site hazards to specific strategies on how to appropriately react to them in a crisis. With these precautions in place, the entire team can be a lot more at ease as they go about their day.