Self Retracting Lifeline

Self-Retracting-Lifeline Overview

During my career I have spent a lot of time with my feet off of the ground. I have used lots of different types of fall protection. One thing that I did not put much thought into is if I did fall how would I get down, out of my harness. Much of the time the answer may have been a ladder or manlift moved into place. A lot of the time I have worked in the middle of nowhere with no plan in place and no real hope of all of the king’s horses and all of the king’s men to get to me in time. After a fall you do not have hours to get down you have minutes before suspension trauma can kill you.

That is Why I want to promote this first product. The Ultra-Lok RSQ is a self-retracting lifeline with a selector knob that enable you to select fall arrest mode or descent mode. In descent mode after a fall the SRL will slowly lower you to the next level. If you are doing elevated work anywhere difficult to access for rescue I highly recommend this SRL.

Besides the Ultra-Lok RSQ I will be making suggestions in these four categories:

  • Basic Self-Retracting Lifelines
  • Sealed Self-Retracting Lifelines
  • Leading Edge Self-Retracting Lifelines
  • Emergency Retrieval Self-Retracting Lifelines

Basic Self-Retracting Lifelines

These self retracting lifelines (SRL’s) are anchored overhead and extend and retract automatically, letting you comfortably move about at your normal speed within a recommended working area. The biggest considerations in this category is price, length, weight and line resistance. When buying a retractable be sure to get a model longer than you anticipate needing (As they say, Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.)

My top choices in this category goes to the Guardian MK Edge. The Aluminum and Stainless steel component makes it feel durable without making it to heavy. The lifeline extends and retracts smoothly without much resistance and the built in handle makes it easier to carry and hang. All that and its low price puts it in the #1 spot.
Next up is the 3M Rebel Protecta. Also lightweight with smooth operation the Rebel is a real contender. But the Rebel has a less tangible plastic shell and with the 3M name comes a slightly higher price.  Where the 3M beats the Guardian is weight capacity. The 3M will support a big 420lbs egg compared to the 310lbs a Guardian is rated for. Additionally the 3M also has more lengths to choose from.

Third place goes to the Miller MightyLite. This is by far the most common SRL that I have used on the job. Very solid and smooth with next to no maintenance. With the standard 310 lb weight capacity the only reason I have it down in third place is the relatively high price.


Sealed Self-Retracting Lifelines

I hate to leave you without any options here but 3M has this category all locked up with the 3M DBI Sala Sealed-Blok. These sealed self retracting lifelines (SRL’s) separates inner components from foreign elements such as grease, moisture and dirt. You can always trust your SRL to work at peak efficiency without worrying about the environment you’re working in.

If you are going to leave your YoYo out in the elements you need one of these. If you will be working in the rain or snow this is what you want. If you are sandblasting or working on anything gritty you will probably want one of these.  They cost more but they will last longer(less replacement costs/less lost productivity).
3M DBI Sala also makes a RSQ version of the Sealed-Blok for those filthy jobs that are inaccessible.

Leading  Egg Edge Self-Retracting Lifelines

Self retracting lifelines SRL’s used for leading edge type applications must incorporate unique design features such as larger diameter cable and an in-line shock absorber to handle the added abrasion demands associated with this work scenario.​

Here is where the Miller MightyLite gets some love. I think that it has the best quality in this category with a wide variety  lengths. There is also plenty of accessories for mounting it on every surface imaginable.
The Guardian Diablo Grande is a pretty good piece of equipment. Light with a convenient handle it is easy to move and hang. Unfortunately, the Diablo has few length options and accessories are limited. The price is the lowest of the category.
The 3m Ultra-Lok has a rare problem with quality. On some Ultra-Loks a galvanized eyelet is used to connect the cable to the energy absorbing pack. The rough eyelet wears on the nylon making a potential point of failure. They also lack a handle making them less portable.  Otherwise they are easily available in many lengths with all the accessories you could want.

Emergency Retrieval Self-Retracting Lifelines

Models of self-retracting lifelines with built-in emergency retrieval that are ideal for confined space rescue. Available with and without mounting brackets making attachment to a tripod or davit rescue support structure fast and easy.
My first choice is the one that I have the most experience with the Miller MightEvac. The MightEvac is built on the same platform as the MightyLite, with its aluminum case and longer hoist handle it feels solid and fairly easy to crank. It is a little pricier than its competitors but in the event of an emergency I think you would appreciate having the extra leverage provided by the longer handle.
Next, I would choose the 3M DBI-SALA Ultra-Lok. The Ultra-Lok is well built with a semi-sealed design. The comment that I made about the Ultra-Lok in the leading edge section does not apply here, since there is no nylon shock absorber to fail. It would probably be best choice for you if you are in damp conditions due to its stainless steel workings . The only real downfall being the short hoist handle.
Last, the most economical choice of the three is the 3M Protecta Rebel. The Rebel is lite and compact. I find that the hoist handle is a little awkward. I would imagine cranking a 200lb. man up 40ft with that handle would be hard task for Ole Humpty Dumpty. But, If you are on a tight budget…