Ask the Expert, Personnel Safety

Ask the Expert: Leading Edge Retractable Compliance Guidelines for Roofers

In our latest installment of Ask the Expert, brought to you by the team of industry experts at EHS Hero®, we look at a recent question from a subscriber asking if there are leading edge retractable compliance guidelines for roofers. See what the experts had to say.

retractable compliance guidelines

Q: Are there leading edge retractable compliance guidelines for roofers?

OSHA defines a self-retracting lifeline/lanyard as a deceleration device containing a drum-wound line that can be slowly extracted from, or retracted onto, the drum under slight tension during normal worker movement, and that, after onset of a fall, automatically locks the drum and arrests the fall.

OSHA requires self-retracting lifelines and lanyards that automatically limit free fall distance to 2 feet or less to be capable of sustaining a minimum tensile load of 3,000 pounds applied to the device with the lifeline or lanyard in the fully extended position. Self-retracting lifelines and lanyards that do not limit free fall distance to 2 feet or less, ripstitch lanyards, and tearing and deforming lanyards must be capable of sustaining a minimum tensile load of 5,000 pounds applied to the device with the lifeline or lanyard in the fully extended position. For more information about OSHA’s requirements for the specifications for self-retracting lifelines/lanyards, see 29 CFR 1926.502(d). OSHA provides further non-mandatory guidelines for complying with 29 CFR 1926.502(d) in 29 CFR 1926 Subpart M, Appendix C.

Leading edge self-retracting lifelines/lanyards are also regulated under the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z359.14 “Safety Requirements for Self-Retracting Devices for Personal Fall Arrest and Rescue Systems” standard. In order to meet this standard, a leading edge self-retracting lifeline will be made of stronger cable, will feature wear-resistant components, and will include energy absorbing technology. Please note that because ANSI standards are copyright protected and BLR does not have permission to reproduce them, I cannot discuss the requirements of Z359.14 in detail. However, a leading edge rated self-retracting device meeting these requirements will be designated as “SRL-LE” and will have specific information both on the label and in the instruction manual provided by the manufacturer. Specific test criteria must be met in order for devices to be labeled for leading edge work where the lifeline can come in contact with a sharp edge during fall arrest.

ANSI Z359.14 also contains requirements for inspections of self-retracting lifelines/lanyards. The frequency of inspection by a competent person and factory authorized inspections is determined by usage. For further guidance on inspecting self-retracting lifelines, see our Toolbox Talk Inspecting self-retracting lifelines. Note that though ANSI Z359.14 is not an OSHA regulation, it provides guidance relating to worker protection and is used as a reference on OSHA’s website. As such, it could be enforced during OSHA inspections pursuant to the General Duty Clause.

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