Safety and health newsletter for the Oregon construction industry

February 18, 2014


Using horizontal lifeline system for fall restraining in decking and leading edge work

horizontal lifeline system
A worker using a restraint system attached to a horizontal lifeline

How do you minimize the exposure to fall hazards when workers do decking and leading-edge work on a large, flat roof?

As most of you know, workers must be protected from falls when they work 10 feet or more above a lower level. However, conventional fall-protection systems – such as personal fall-arrest systems, safety nets, and guardrails may not be viable when workers are decking a large roof. Guardrails may not be feasible, for example, because the decking work zone is constantly moving forward as new decking is laid down.

One effective fall-protection option for protecting workers who do decking work is a fall-restraint system attached to a horizontal lifeline that is anchored directly to the deck. The fall-restraint system prevents the worker from reaching an unprotected edge and the horizontal lifeline gives the worker mobility that would not be possible with a restraint system attached to a single anchor point, as shown in the photos 1-3 below.

Figure: Diagram of the horizontal lifeline/restrain system setup

Photo 1
Photo 1: The horizontal lifeline is anchored directly to the deck.

Photo 2
Photo 2: The restraint-system is attached to the horizontal lifeline.

Photo 3
Photo 3: When engaged, the restraint system prevents the worker from falling over an unprotected edge.

Is this a fall-protection option for your job?

Employers who have used restraint systems with horizontal lifelines report that they are more efficient (workers can move along the length of the horizontal line) and effective (the restraint system prevents a fall) than restraint systems with a single anchor or personal fall-arrest systems. Is this an option for your job? Keep the following points in mind:

(Thanks to Oregon OSHA Senior Safety Compliance Officer Tim Marcum, who contributed to this article.)

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