The Guardian Fall Team Blog

Unless you actually see some of the treatment SRLs get, you may not believe it. To see for myself, I took a little trip down to our SRL repair lab to see what the latest horrors were, and boy did I see a lot. In the interest of using real-life examples to elucidate why (and how) you should love your SRL, I think it’s important to share some rather troubling examples of SRL abuse – it’s not for the faint of heart.


First up is the SRL whose cable lifeline was just barely hanging on, AND whose snap hook fall indicator showed it has been exposed to a fall. Here, see for yourself:



What’s the rub? How about that the return instructions indicated the SRL’s lifeline should be repaired under warranty? That’s right, an SRL that had clearly been exposed to some major trauma was sent back as though the damage just happened out of the blue. There was no mention of a fall, and no mention that the snap hook fall indicator had been tripped. What happened to this SRL? Who knows…?

Here’s another SRL that was sent in for repair. See anything odd?



Should Be Feathered, too...

All those black splotches are roofing tar. It might be a little tough to see in the picture, but almost the entire lifeline was covered in a nice, sticky, gooey tar. There was so much tar, in fact, that when the lifeline was retracted into the housing, tar flung around inside, gumming up the whole works, preventing the brake from engaging when tested. Sure, the lifeline would pay out and (sort of) retract OK, but give that lifeline a sharp yank and…nothing. Talk about a false sense of security. Had the user not tested the FULL functionality of this SRL, they may not have noticed that the brake was malfunctioning due to the layer of tar that had built up inside.

This phenomenon is not only caused by tar. Do you work in concrete? We have seen SRL housings whose insides were caked with the very fine concrete spray from fresh pours. As the lifeline extends and retracts it picks up bits of concrete and slings them throughout the inside the SRL housing. Then, as the SRL is left overnight, the concrete hardens and, like the tar-gummed SRL above, impedes the function of the brakes in the SRL. The lesson? Keep your SRL clean. If you work in very demanding conditions, rinse the lifeline often and take an extra moment to check the braking action by giving the snap hook a sharp tug, which should result in the brake engaging and stopping the lifeline from paying out. If the lifeline does not extend and retract smoothly, or if it fails the tug test, take it out of service, label it as unusable, and get it repaired – pronto! Of course no day should start without you inspecting your equipment, but when things get down and dirty, there’s nothing wrong with taking a few moments to double-check your gear.

Do you see the kink in the lifeline? This is a definite issue, and shows that the cable has been laid across a hard corner and received some sort of impact or sharp tug. This is another common problem we see with returned SRLs. As tough as it might be to keep your lifeline from impacting beams, edges, rebar, or other hard, immobile objects, doing so is a critical factor in keeping your lifeline healthy and at full strength. Having even just a few strands of cut cable leads to nothing but problems, the least of which is a snarled return mechanism due to wild strands getting caught inside the housing, and worst of which is a snapped lifeline at the most inopportune time.

Other interesting examples of SRL abuse I learned about from our repair department were missing/stripped screws (which voids the warranty – by the way); SRLs full of fiberglass, wood chips, sawdust, heavy impacts that must have started from several floors up, and ear plugs. That’s right, earplugs. And not just one, but a pair. Now, if you can provide a rational explanation for why there would be a pair of foam earplugs inside an SRL, I’d love to hear about it. In fact, I’ll send you a Guardian T-shirt.

When is a Handle Not a Handle?

While we are here, I want to draw your attention to something that I’m afraid we see a lot more of than we want to. Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to connect the SRL’s snap hook back to the swivel and use the resultant loop of cable as a handle. Yes, I know it sounds (and looks) like a good idea, but carrying your SRL in this manner can both damage the cable at the swage, and also prematurely wear the rubber stopper. Here, have a look:



I’ve got more of Dos and Don’ts to share with you, and to make them a little more fun, I had our graphic artist create a scene for each one - hope you enjoy them. An interesting fact: most of the items on this list came directly from questions we received from customers, so if any of these sound familiar, you know why. Don’t worry, we’ve deleted the names to protect the guilty…er innnocent.