Vertical Lifeline Systems – Components and Design

DBI Sala Vertical Rope Grabs and Lifelines Systems

Vertical lifeline systems provide convenient, reliable fall protection for workers who perform vertical climbing tasks. There are a variety of system designs to best fit the task and job site. These include flexible cable ladder safety systems, rigid rail ladder safety systems, climb assist ladder systems and the more conventional synthetic rope with rope grab systems.

Why Have a Vertical Lifeline?

  • A fall from as little as 4 feet can hurt or even kill a worker
  • Falls kill more construction workers than any other cause.
  • OSHA reports that 278 out of 775 (36%) construction deaths in 2012 were falls

Vertical Lifeline Components:

  • ANCHORAGE: OSHA defines anchorage as a secure point of attachment for lifelines, lanyards, or deceleration devices.
  • CONNECTOR: a device which is used to connect parts of a personal fall arrest system or parts of a positioning device system together. It may be an independent component of the system, such as a carabiner, or it may be an integral component of part of the system such as a buckle or D-ring sewn into a body belt or body harness or a snaphook spliced or sewn to a lanyard or self-retracting lanyard.
  • LANYARD: is a flexible line of rope, wire rope, or strap which generally has a connector at each end for connecting the body belt or body harness to a deceleration device, lifeline, or anchorage.
  • LIFELINE: means a component consisting of a vertical flexible line for connection to an anchorage at one or both ends (vertical lifeline), and which serves as a means for connecting other components of a personal fall arrest system to the anchorage.
  • ROPE GRAB: a deceleration device which travels on a lifeline and automatically, by friction, engages the lifeline and locks so as to arrest the fall of an employee. A rope grab usually employs the principle of inertial locking, cam/level locking or both.

Vertical Lifeline System Design

DBI-SALA Lad-Saf Mobile Rope Grab Kit

A vertical lifeline can be classified as permanent, temporary, and vertical rail.


  • A tensioned line which is permanently fastened to anchorage at the top end and fastened at lower end to allow tension to be applied to the line
  • A number of brackets should be installed at intervals as per manufacturer recommendations


  • A suspended line that is temporarily fastened at its upper extremity to an overhead anchoring point
  • Capable of being fitted with a tensioning weight or other stabilizing means at the lower extremity


  • A rigid track that is permanently fastened by a number of brackets along its length to a fixed ladder or structure
  • Allows a sliding-type fall arrester to be attached and detached at least at the two extremities of the rail length

Helpful Links

Engineered Fall Protection supplies DBI-SALA and PROTECTA vertical fall arrest systems; serving clients from coast to coast, Canada, Mexico and especially focused in the states of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, Tennessee, Kentucky, Iowa, and Oklahoma.

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