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June 15, 2011
What is a Deceleration Device Used in Fall Protection?

What are some examples of rope grab devices or retracting lifelines that are used by your company? Do you know how they are used? Are your employees trained on the safe and effective use of these devices?

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A deceleration device is an example of a means of fall protection. It is used with a fall arrest system to reduce the forces on your body as the result of a fall. (Fall arrest systems are types of equipment that stop a fall in progress. A harness is an example of a fall arrest device.) It dissipates a substantial amount of energy in arresting the fall.

Here are some examples of deceleration devices, and some information on how they work:

  • Rip-stitch, tearing, or stretching lanyards are the most common types of lanyards. The maximum deceleration distance is 3-1/2 feet. Remember to account for this distance when checking if your fall location is clear.
  • A rope grab device travels on a lifeline and automatically, by friction, engages the lifeline and locks to arrest the person’s fall. This type of device might be used as part of fall protection system for climbing high ladders.
  • Retracting lanyards or lifelines include devices that allow the line to be slowly extracted from or retracted into a drum that is under slight tension when the worker is moving about normally. Fall arrest systems with rope grab devices or retracting devices can be more than 6 feet long, so these types of devices give workers more flexibility.
  • A lanyard is required between these types of devices and the harness if there is no other deceleration device that is part of the system.

The above information comes from BLR’s presentation "Fall Protection in Construction." For more information on all the training courses BLR has to offer, go to our Safety Training Materials & Resources page.

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