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The Difference Between a Guardrail and a Horizontal Lifeline

Working at height is different on every site and for every job so it stands to reason that roof safety procedures should vary according to the exact conditions encountered. Of course, Health and Safety regulations must be followed to the letter, but those do allow for different safety systems to be used under different circumstances. Even across a single construction site it’s normal practice to have more than one kind of safety feature in use.

Obviously the easy movement and safety of a worker on a perfectly vertical surface halfway up a 90m tall wind turbine is much more difficult to ensure than that of a worker not too far from the edge of an office block roof. The hazards, however, are exactly the same and they should be treated with the same serious and thorough approach.

Even in the horizontal plane, safety systems vary. When protecting workers from a fall off an edge there are two common strategies. One is to install a basic but sturdy guardrail along the edge. This allows for uninterrupted movement along the side and in most cases where the walkway is flat and hazard free it works reasonably well.

A horizontal lifeline goes further. There is a fixed rail or cable in place and each worker is clipped into it with a safety line. This is better for pitched roofs and places where installing a rail on the vulnerable side is impractical, but it does have the drawback of restricting free movement. Whichever method is called for, we can provide everything you need. If you’re not sure which to use, we can help with that too.

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