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The Guardian Fall Team Blog

If there is an unsung hero of a fall protection harness, it has to be the lanyard keeper. The what? The lanyard keeper - that little loop of plastic (or snap strap), where the second leg of a dual-leg lanyard resides (or should reside) when it’s not in use. But even though it may be the unsung hero, it might also be the most overlooked and underused feature of a harness. As both a manufacturer of a full-range of fall protection harnesses and as a group of people dedicated to your safety while working at height, we want to change that.  The lanyard keeper exists for a very specific reason, and hopefully by the end of this article you will understand why it exists, and why it can be such a vital part of keeping you safe in the event of a fall.

There For A Reason

First, it’s important to understand that the presence of lanyard keepers is not arbitrary. As a matter of fact, there is an ANSI-specified drop test that essentially demands their inclusion. In the ANSI Z359.13-13 standard for lanyards (section 4.10 to be exact), we find a dynamic drop test known at the “hip” test. This test demonstrates whether an unused leg of a dual-leg lanyard will cause unsafe side-loading on the harness during a fall. Of course, during the arrest of a fall, the safest orientation for a body is straight up and down. This ensures a few things, not the least of which is that the person stays safely inside their harness and that the forces of the fall are properly distributed throughout the webbing as designed. If anything disrupts this optimal position (such as an unused lanyard leg attached improperly to the webbing), the results can be unpredictable, painful, and potentially deadly.

So, how does this hip test work, and what, exactly, does it tell us? First, let’s watch a test to get an idea of what it looks like.

 

The Video Says It All

As you can see, when the test weight falls and the shock absorber deploys, the unused second leg of the lanyard (in this case it’s a steel cable lanyard) attached to the test weight extension tightens to the point it breaks the nylon tie. Notice how violently the snap hook flies away from the test weight when the nylon tie breaks. There is a lot of tension on that lanyard leg, and if it had been connected to something strong, like harness webbing, you can guarantee the test weight would not have fallen straight down, but at an awkward angle. Just use your imagination to think about how that would affect a real-life fall.  The benefit of the harness-mounted lanyard keeper is that in the event of a fall, if the unused lanyard leg becomes caught, the keeper will break away, preventing the forces from the tightening lanyard leg from transferring to the harness!

Now, It's Your Turn

An effective design doesn’t have to be complicated. As matter of fact, sometimes the most useful tools or features are the simplest.  Such is the case of the humble lanyard keeper. While it might not be the flashiest, most feature-filled part of a full body harness, it sure knows how to do its job. And now that you know how and why it does its job, put it to good use, won’t you?