Energy absorbing lanyards vs positioning lanyards

April 2, 2024 5:16 pm Published by

Lanyards serve as a flexible tether enabling workers freedom of movement while keeping connected to fall arrest anchors. But with two main lanyard categories available – energy absorbing and positioning – selecting the right version for occupational scenarios is critical yet often confusing. Both types provide essential safety functions, just tailored to different job demands and risks. To help clarify best practices on when to employ each style, we’ll explain key differences every height safety manager should know surrounding energy-absorbing lanyards vs positioning lanyards.

Fall arrest systems

Here the worker wears a body harness connected to a solid overhead anchor through an energy-absorbing lanyard, most commonly referred to as a shock-absorbing lanyard. The lanyard remains somewhat slack during normal positioning, allowing unhindered motion. However, should an accidental fall occur, the lanyard catches the worker and arrests the fall by gradually absorbing kinetic energy as it stretches. Without this controlled deceleration, the abrupt stop of a 6-foot free fall could otherwise injure or even prove fatal.

Once stretched to its limit during a fall, the specially woven interior of the energy-absorbing lanyard resists extending further. This avoids excessive downward momentum for a more easily survivable landing. Yet because of this one-time emergency extension, energy-absorbing lanyards permanently deform and must be replaced following a fall even if appearing intact. Their role lies solely as an emergency fall arrest component.

Work positioning systems

On the other hand, work positioning lanyards help users maintain safe footing and stability through sustained periods of tension. Think of technicians leaning sideways from elevated platforms for access or construction crews bracing on pitched roofs. Here, a sturdy work positioning lanyard keeps the worker snugly anchored as a stable base for performing tasks hands-free. Carabiners at each end allow adjusting connections across shifting worksites.

Unlike energy-absorbing lanyards used in fall arrest, work positioning lanyards don’t stretch or progressively give way when force is applied. They remain taut to offer constant body support. The lanyard also must retain adequate load capacity for redundant tie-off points that may share the user’s weight during maneuvering. With no shock absorption, however, they cannot be used to arrest free falls. 

Choosing the right lanyard

With two unique types of fall protection lanyards available, properly assessing work activities ensures selecting the right style. All height safety programs should integrate both energy absorbing and work positioning lanyards as part of complete systems tailored to covering job demands safely. Mixing up their distinct protective purposes or assuming one suits all needs puts staff at major risk of accidents or injury.


So, keep these core fall safety functions in perspective when provisioning safety gear with your specialty distributor. For more technical specifications on selecting correctly rated lanyards and anchors, contact fall protection specialists for advice. 

Both shock-absorbing and work-positioning style lanyards play irreplaceable, life-preserving roles across countless occupational settings and when managing elevation risks. Weighing their capabilities through a safety-first lens helps set your program up for success

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